Pender Island resident Leslie Mcbain knows about the reality of opioid addiction all too well.
Her son Jordan died in February 2014.
According to Mcbain, her son injured his back while working on a construction site and went to the family doctor for treatment, who prescribed him oxycodone.
“The doctor treated him only with oxydodone. I actually went to the doctor and gave him the information that Jordan was at risk because [he] had previously in high school, and his young life, been a recreational drug user. But the doctor did go ahead and over-prescribe oxycodone, and no other other treatment. So within a very short amount of time, Jordan was addicted.”
She says it got out of control over the next six or seven months, and his behavior changed drastically.
“Normally a very happy and engaged young man became very desperate – became rude, untrustworthy.”
Then his doctor cut him off
“Our doctor at that time really had no education around the addiction that would be a consequence…of his prescribing. So he basically just cut Jordan off.”
That’s when Jordan began buying it on the street and things got worse.
LISTEN to Simi Sara’s complete interview with Dr. Wood and Leslie McBain here:
He finally decided to go to detox and emerged from it successful, but eventually relapsed and then died a few months later.
“He died from an interaction of several drugs where he was trying not to go into withdrawal – but he couldn’t access oxycodone – so that was the story of how he eventually passed away.”
It’s partly because of stories like this one that the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority has taken the initiative to train physicians in safer prescribing.
Opioid use disorder is one of the most challenging forms of addiction facing B.C.’s health care system
According to Dr. Even Wood, the medical director of Community Addiction Services at VCH, the science of addiction treatment has gotten ahead of what patients are actually experiencing in terms of care and treatment options available.
In response to that, the health authority is implementing a first-of-its-kind guideline for the treatment of such addictions. The new guideline hopes to address the gap in care.
“The whole point of this is really to try and modernize the addiction treatment system. There’s a whole initiative separate to this…in terms of safer prescribing by physicians, and as you may know we’ve created a whole addiction medicine training program in British Columbia with the support of the Health Minister Terry Lake, aiming not only to address challenges when people present with addiction…but also the harms that come from when we don’t train physicians in addiction, and how we can create problems with addiction with some of these medications.”
The guidelines introduced today, says Dr. Wood, are focused on getting away from simply having a methadone program, to one where a range of treatments can be offered, as well as the educating on the dangers with some things like offering detox as an isolated intervention.
“Probably the biggest change is recommending that methodone not be the first fine treatment that we offer.”
Mcbain says she’s grateful to hear that this kind of support for recovery will now be available in B.C.
“If Jordan had access to the programs that Dr. Wood is describing, I’m sure he would be with us today.”
Since Jordan’s death, Mcbain has founded an organization called Moms United and Mandated to Saving the Lives of Drug Users. Learn more about her organization here: mumsDu