Ahead of National Addictions Awareness Week Nov. 26 to Dec. 2, CAMH welcomed Dr. Larissa Mooney to present on the opioid epidemic gripping the U.S. and Canada, discuss treatments that show promise, and offer glimmers of hope in this crisis.
Dr. Mooney specializes in general adult and addiction psychiatry. She is an Associate Clinical Professor at UCLA, where she is Director of the UCLA Addiction Medicine Clinic and teaches principles of evidence-based and integrated treatments for patients with addictive and co-occurring mental health disorders.
“We have in the U.S. some movement and emerging models that are moving addiction treatment into primary care settings,” Dr. Mooney said in her presentation, titled Addressing the U.S. Opioid Epidemic. “Traditionally, addiction was very much segregated from general medical and mental health, but right now the volume of cases is too much for specialty addiction centres alone. Clinicians will have a valuable role in combatting this epidemic.”
Glimmers of hope include promising medications; slowly shifting attitudes toward addiction and even a reduction of deaths in some parts of the country – but there is plenty of work ahead. Though her talk focused mainly on the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose deaths in the U.S., she acknowledged a parallel crisis is found in Canada.
“One way in which Canada is more progressive than the U.S. is in approaches to harm reduction,” she said. “We have a whole history of stigma around addiction and it’s going to take a lot of work to get the public on board to accept that this is an illness that is treatable.”
While at CAMH, Dr. Mooney also presented on Cannabis Use Disorder and Functional Outcomes.
CAMH provides inpatient medical withdrawal treatment, day detoxification, outpatient services with rapid access clinics and treatment in CAMH’s Gerald Sheff and Shanitha Kachan Emergency Department, including buprenorphine induction.
To meet the growing opioid crisis, CAMH launched an Overdose Prevention initiative last year in all our addiction clinics, which screens clients for risk and provides overdose education and quick access to Naloxone kits. CAMH also conducts clinical research in the treatment of opioid use disorders and offers training for health care providers across the province and provides education for families and patients. CAMH is also partnering with primary care settings to help them reduce inappropriate prescribing and to help increase their capacity to medically manage opioid use disorders.