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CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Putting CAMH's Opioid Overdose Prevention Strategy to work

The first phase of CAMH’s new Opioid Overdose Prevention Strategy is now in full swing.

“We are excited about the creation of this tool,” says Alison Watson, Advanced Practice Clinical Leader (Nursing). “We now have a standardized clinical form that will support a consistent approach both to assessing risk of opioid overdose, and simultaneously providing prevention education and resources to clients who use opioids or street drugs."

“The tool encapsulates all of the current evidence we have found about educating and empowering clients and clinicians to have a guided conversation about reducing the risk of opioid overdose,” says Andrea Tsanos, Advanced Practice Clinical Leader (Psychotherapy). “We hope clinicians will see the tool as a useful and streamlined way to support these crucial conversations surrounding this very real risk.”

Another key aspect of the strategy, a new partnership with Pharmacy Services, has been operational since the beginning of August.  Clinical Pharmacist Tianna Costa now regularly attends MAARS Phase 1 Intake groups, family education sessions, plus regular drop-in sessions that occur twice weekly at 60 White Squirrel Way. In addition to Naloxone training and kit provision, Costa also supports outpatient teams by conducting medication reviews, answering drug information questions, and providing medication education to clients, as it pertains to decreasing risk of opioid overdose. Costa educates clients on opioid overdose risks and the benefits of obtaining a Naloxone kit.  So far this month, she has trained 36 clients, family members and CAMH staff on naloxone, and has provided each of them with kits.

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Clinical Pharmacist Tianna Costa provides face-to-face education on how Naloxone works.

“There has been a lot of interest from family members,” says Costa. “They understand that if there is an opioid overdose it won’t be the user who administers the Naloxone, it will be a friend or family member.  Family members sometimes hit a roadblock where they can’t get a loved one to stop using.  So it can be quite empowering for them to know that they have a Naloxone kit that could potentially save a life.”

Costa believes the face-to-face education she is doing at CAMH will help destigmatize Naloxone so that it becomes a standard part of everyone’s emergency first aid kit.

“This is a pro-active harm reduction strategy, it is a new role for pharmacists,” says Costa. “If someone wants to hear more about how to reduce opioid overdose risk, including Naloxone kits, I’m right there to provide the service. That’s the best way to get this information, and these kits out there.”

This first phase of the Opioid Overdose Prevention Strategy is focused on the most at-risk clients.  In the months ahead it will be expanded to the Emergency Department and other services.



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