New efforts to expand treatment for opioid users in Victoria are putting addiction specialists in hospital emergency departments and supporting family doctors who provide opioid substitution therapy for patients.

The initiatives by Island Health and the Victoria Divisions of Family Practice are intended to dovetail with the work of the South Island Rapid Access Addiction Clinic that opened in the city early this year.

The clinic offers streamlined access to opioid replacement therapies including methadone and Suboxone. It saw 116 patients in its first five months of operation.

Dr. Ramm Hering, Island Health’s physician lead for the clinic, said initiating Suboxone treatment is “tricky”, but it is easy for a family doctor to continue the treatment once a patient has been started on it.

“What the rapid access clinic is doing is connecting with family physicians, supporting them so that addiction can be treated, primarily by family physicians,” Hering told On the Island’s Khalil Ahktar.

“Because ultimately it is a chronic disease that is best treated by primary care physicians,” Hering said.

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