More Prescriptions for Opioids in Canada

The number of opioid prescriptions in Canada is on the rise over the last five years.

Doctors have been giving patients fewer doses however.

In pharmacy's across the country there were 21.5 million prescriptions for the potent painkillers filled.

16 Canadians a day are hospitalized for opioid poisoning.

The number of fentanyl prescriptions are down.

In 2016, the CDC published its "Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain", recommending opioids only be used when benefits for pain and function are expected to outweigh risks, and then used at the lowest effective dosage, with avoidance of concurrent opioid and benzodiazepine use whenever possible.

Naloxone is used mostly as a rescue medication for opioid overdose. It is an opioid antagonist, meaning it binds to opioid receptors but does not turn them on. It also happens that naloxone binds to opioid receptors more strongly than heroin or any prescription opioids. This means that when someone is overdosing on opioids, naloxone can be administered, allowing it to take the place of the opioid drug in the person's receptors, turning them off. This blocks the effect of the receptors. Naloxone is sometimes administered with other drugs such as buprenorphine, as a way to taper off buprenorphine over time. Naloxone binds to some of the receptors, blocking the effectiveness of some receptors in case of relapse.