November 23, 2017 8:04 pm
Updated: November 24, 2017 10:51 am

‘Prescription trigger happy’: Opioids being dispensed at alarming rate

WATCH: The number of opioid prescriptions issued in Manitoba is increasing, and not everyone is using them for the right reasons. Global's Timm Bruch reports.


The number of opioid prescriptions issued in Manitoba is increasing, and some people are using the upward trend as a way to take advantage of the system.

Prescription pads in the province are being utilized frequently, and a local doctor said that not everyone is using their prescribed opioids to treat pain.

READ MORE: Manitoba opioid prescriptions up, doses of prescribed opioids down: report

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“We always need to be concerned while prescribing any opiate [because] there is a potential for it to become addictive,” the medical director of the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, Dr. Ginette Poulin said. “There has been an opiate problem for quite some time.

“Where there’s a will there’s a way. Certainly people know how to navigate the system.”

Canada as a whole is guilty of prescribing high-strength drugs, like codeine, morphine and fentanyl, more than others. The country currently ranks second per capita internationally.

The high number of dispensed drugs means doctors have to be on lookout for potentially false claims in order to score an opiate.

READ MORE: Canada’s opioid crisis is burdening the health care system, report warns

“Prescribers are becoming more and more aware of that potential where someone might be falsifying,” Dr. Poulin said.  “[We have to ask] is the patient making this up or is this a legitimate claim?”

Many addicts are known to go doctor shopping: they’ll lie about a medical condition that doesn’t exist to get multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors, and then they will fill those prescriptions at different pharmacies over and over.

“Doctors want to fix the problem of their patient so they’re going to do what they’re going to do,” Aurora Recovery Centre’s Ian Rabb said. “So what happens is you stop getting high, you start needing more, and then what are you going to do? 90 per cent of people that have surgery or a back problem and are given something, they don’t continue taking opiates. But some people have different feelings they like.”

READ MORE: Manitoba announces fentanyl task force

Rabb acknowledged there is a problem on the streets, but he said the issue is two-pronged.

“Our doctors are often prescription trigger happy. “

Steps are currently being put in place to make prescription transactions — and the people requesting opiates — easier to track, but Rabb said addiction stretches far beyond.

“I know they are trying, but more needs to happen,” Rabb said. “We have to have systems in place and places people can go immediately when they need help.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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