GUEST POST: New 24/7 Addiction Medicine Support Line for Pharmacists
A new 24/7 support line for clinicians and pharmacists is now available, offering live, in-the-moment addiction medicine support while they are meeting with patients across British Columbia.
The 24/7 Addiction Medicine Clinician Support Line, launched in June 2020, will provide rapid response for time-sensitive clinical substance use inquiries. Addiction Medicine Specialists will staff the line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year in order to provide telephone consultation servicesto physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and pharmacists who are involved in addiction and substance use care, treatment, and recovery.
The need for increased capacity across the health care system, in order to support people who use substances, has never been more urgent. Overdose fatalities continue at troubling rates across the country, and it has been particularly alarming to see the number of fatal overdoses increasing in British Columbia amidst dual public health emergencies. This has revealed longstanding gaps in our system of care for addiction, including persistent challenges with health care access in rural and remote communities, as well as a lack of prescribers, nurses, and pharmacists trained to provide addiction medicine treatment and care.
The support line will serve as an important tool for pharmacists across B.C., assisting them as they continue to provide vital continuity of care to people with substance use disorders.
The support line will also help support the implementation of clinical guidance andeducation opportunities, and improve access to evidence-based treatment for patients. This is especially important as emerging guidance and regulatory amendments are being rapidly developed in response to the dual public health emergencies. This includes interim provincial guidance, “Risk Mitigation in the Context of Dual Public Health Emergencies” and bulletins to support patients on OAT and iOAT, as well as those with alcohol use disorder.
Pharmacists can reach the 24/7 Addiction Medicine Clinician Support Line and speak to an Addiction Medicine Specialist by calling 778-945-7619. Quick facts about the line:
- The 24/7 Addiction Medicine Clinician Support Line is available for physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and pharmacists caring for individuals with substance use concerns.
- Addiction Medicine Specialists can help with diagnostic clarification, medication recommendations and treatment planning.
- Consultation can include support in screening, assessment, treatment and management of substance use and substance use disorder(s).
- Support is available for a wide range of substance use concerns such as opioids, alcohol, stimulants, and benzodiazepines.
Supporting Safe and Effective Pharmacy Practice in Substance Use
While the 24/7 support line is an important new resource, it’s important to remember other ways pharmacists can to continue to support safe and effective pharmacy practice in substance use, including:
- Providing naloxone kits
- Communicating with prescribers and teams, including getting emergency numbers if possible
- When necessary, utilizing the temporary authorizations put into place with COVID-19, such as:
- Taking verbal or faxed authorizations for schedule 1A medications which are then to be followed by a mailed Controlled Prescription Program (CPP) form
- Ensuring continued access to OAT treatment by transferring OAT prescriptions to another pharmacy upon the patient’s request
- Expanding your own knowledge in substance use
- Understanding how stigma can impact patient care and understand cultural safety and humility in care
Resources that may be helpful for you to explore include:
- Naloxone Kit Training
- For OAT training, check out the Provincial Opioid Addiction Treatment Support Program
- For comprehensive education on a variety of substance use disorders, check out the Addiction Care and Treatment Online Course
- BC ECHO on Substance Use community of practice series on opioid use disorder
- For more education and support with the Risk Mitigation guidance, check out BCCSU's Webinars: COVID-19, Substance Use, and Safer Supply
- Risk Mitigation guidance FAQ
- Clinical Care Guidance:
Mona Kwong is the Pharmacy Advisor and Director, Addiction Pharmacy Fellowship Program. She is a managing partner in a community pharmacy in downtown Vancouver and consults as a clinical pharmacist in a multispecialty collaborative clinic in East Vancouver. Mona is committed to enabling pharmacists to practice to their fullest extent of their abilities through meaningful collaboration with the pharmacy community and other health care professions. She continues to educate pharmacists through different workshops and initiatives.
Amanda Giesler, MHA, is the Program Manager, Clinical Education for the BCCSU. In her role, she leads the clinical education and engagement activities at the BCCSU including the strategy, planning, delivery, improvement, and evaluation of the BCCSU clinical education program initiatives. She also oversees collaborative provincial networks of stakeholders to disseminate knowledge and gather feedback on BCCSU’s clinical educational programs to increase participant enrolment, build prescriber capacity, and expand BCCSU education initiatives.