March 27, 2019 3:09 pm

Multi-layer approach needed to deal with opioid crisis in Saskatoon: study

WATCH ABOVE: A look at how opioid overdoses have risen in Canada.

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A new study says a multi-layer approach is needed in Saskatoon to deal with the opioid crisis.

The study, Consolidating Perspectives on Saskatoon’s Evolving Opioid Crisis, said better co-ordination of existing services, supervised consumption sites, and a long-term provincial strategy along with a crisis response plan are needed to fight opioid addiction in the city.

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“We’ve heard a lot about the opioid crisis in Canada through news media, but most of that information focuses on patterns in other provinces,” said University of Saskatchewan associate Prof. Lori Hanson, who led the study.

“Our team wanted to understand the local context and the factors influencing opioid use in Saskatoon.”

What the study found is the opioid crisis is not solely about fentanyl, and stigmas about drug users is a primary barrier to accessing health services.

“When care providers can work with people who use drugs in a non-judgmental way, barriers are reduced and patient needs can be met,” said Dr. Peter Butt, a co-investigator of the study.

READ MORE: Opioids an increasing public health concern in Saskatchewan: minister

Researchers said policy-makers and front-line care providers need to work together to create a one-stop shop which would increase access to treatment and harm reduction supplies while reducing costs between agencies.

The study also pointed out there are no pain management clinics to help reduce doctor reliance on opioid prescriptions.

Also of concern, the study said, is the growing availability of other stimulants, like crystal meth, in the Prairies.

READ MORE: Support group finds common ground for crystal meth addicts

The study, which involved 24 front-line people who deal with patients, has been distributed to stakeholders and the provincial drug task force.

Researchers hope to conduct another phase of the study to include the perspective of people who use or have used drugs.

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