Suboxone on trial at Alberta emergency rooms to curb opioid addictions

Suboxone on trial at some Alberta emergency rooms to help curb opioid addictions
WATCH: There's a new strategy coming to some Alberta hospitals in hopes of helping treat patients addicted to opioids and overdosing. Starting Thursday, a few emergency departments are now part of a trial treatment using a drug called suboxone. Sarah Offin explains.

Alberta Health Services has started a pilot program to offer suboxone to people who come in to some emergency rooms suffering from opioid overdoses.

The drug has been used by treatment facilities — like Simon House Recovery Centre — for years as a successful means of curbing cravings from addictions to hard drugs like fentanyl.

“Once someone is taking their suboxone as prescribed, they can’t go out and use or abuse other opioids or street drugs or get high,” said Trevor Loria, the centre’s president and CEO.

READ MORE: Alberta fentanyl deaths continue to rise in 2018 — but at a slower rate

“The naloxone blocks that and keeps them safe from overdose.”

WATCH: Joshua Sigda has been using hard drugs including crack, heroin, and carfentynl for 11 years. Two months ago, he embarked on his fifth attempt to get clean. He spoke with Global’s Sarah Offin about what he’s doing differently this time in order to leave drugs behind and be a better father to his 9-year-old son.

Recovering drug addict talks about his latest attempt to get clean using suboxone
Recovering drug addict talks about his latest attempt to get clean using suboxone

Naloxone is commonly used in Alberta as means of stopping an opioid overdose. It’s just one of the ingredients in suboxone, which also helps stop the pain associated with cravings.

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“They don’t have to be referred to a clinic and wait in line to do that [anymore],” said Dr. Karen Grimsrud, the chief medical officer of health, in a press conference Thursday. “If they have an interest in the emergency room, that medication is started right away.”

READ MORE: Alberta child advocate releases info about 12 youth opioid-linked deaths

Suboxone is given to patients in the form of a tablet that melts under the tongue. It’s usually given for two months to about a year.

The cost of a year’s worth of treatment ranges from $11,000 to $13,000.