NDP, former patient, highlight risk of overprescribing opioids and call for change

Overprescribing opioids has been a contributing factor in the province-wide drug crisis, as Jeremy Bohmann can attest. He was hospitalized for 11 days due to a herniated disc and was prescribed opioids to manage his pain. Bohmann joined NDP Mental Health and Addictions Critic Danielle Chartier today to call on the province to implement the Auditor’s recommendations for mitigating the dangerous and damaging misuse of opioids.

“Last year alone Saskatchewan saw 119 deaths related to opioid usage – that’s over a hundred families devastated by the lack of proper action to handle this crisis,” Chartier said. “It’s imperative that we not only help those who are battling addiction, but also create a system where people battling pain aren’t put at risk of becoming addicted.”

During his time in the hospital, Bohmann, who is from Turtleford, was given hydromorphone but did not react well to it. He asked for but was refused any non-opioid pain relief. He left the hospital with a prescription for dilaudid, but it made him nauseous and didn’t help with his pain. He managed to get a non-opioid pain relief medication after visiting his family doctor, which worked better than the opioid options he was given while in hospital. He took his concerns to Ministry of Health’s office, but the concerns were not addressed.

“The Ministry needs to be aware of how opioids are being prescribed in health centres, and how they are contributing to the addiction crisis,” Bohmann said. “When I was prescribed the opioids, I was afraid that I was going to overdose or become an addict.”

In her report, the provincial auditor noted the prescribing of opioids is well above the national level and that the government needs to better support the identification of potential misuse of opioids. She further indicated that the province should look into implementing a system that would require physicians to review patient medication profiles prior to prescribing opioids.

“These recommendations will help us get in front of the crisis, and will certainly save lives,” Chartier said. “When it comes to their pain management plans, no one should have to go through what Jeremy did.”