Take-Away Treatment for People who Overdose on Opioids

A first-in-Canada pilot project in the St. Paul’s Hospital Emergency Department is giving opioid overdose patients take-away doses of Suboxone when they’re discharged.

Patients get three days of the Suboxone tablets, which stop cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and a follow-up plan.

Currently, overdose patients are resuscitated in an ED but never given a chance to start life-saving treatment. That’s like a heart-attack patient not getting treatment for heart disease before being discharged.

The pilot, which will run for the next two years, will be evaluated by Providence’s BC Centre for Substance Use (BCCSU) to assess the impact on overdoses, hospital visits, mortality and engagement in care. If the St. Paul’s project proves successful, it could be expanded to include other patients in the ED identified with opioid use disorder. Eventually, this model could be adopted by all emergency departments in the province.