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Review Article

Prescription opioid prescribing, use/misuse, harms and treatment among Aboriginal people in Canada: a narrative review of available data and indicators

Submitted: 5 April 2016
Revised: 19 August 2016
Accepted: 29 August 2016
Published: 22 November 2016

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Author(s) : Russell C, Firestone M, Kelly L, Mushquash C, Fischer B.

Citation: Russell C, Firestone M, Kelly L, Mushquash C, Fischer B.  Prescription opioid prescribing, use/misuse, harms and treatment among Aboriginal people in Canada: a narrative review of available data and indicators. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2016; 16: 3974. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnew.asp?ArticleID=3974 (Accessed 19 October 2017)

ABSTRACT

Introduction:  Prescription opioid (PO) misuse and related harms are high in Canada, and a major public health challenge. In Canada, 1.4 million individuals (4.3% of the total population) self-identify as Aboriginal, among whom substance use and related harms are elevated. While there are reports of PO use and associated problems among Aboriginal groups, no comprehensive data review currently exists.
Methods:  A review of available data sources (ie journal publications, public reports and ‘grey’ literature) was conducted following principles of a scoping review. Information and data were identified, extracted, and organized into major indicator categories: PO prescribing/dispensing, use/abuse, morbidity/mortality harms and treatment, and narratively reported.
Results:  Data suggest that PO dispensing, use and misuse levels among Aboriginal populations are high and/or rising in select settings when compared to the general Canadian population. High levels of PO-related dependence and pregnancy harms exist (mainly in Northern Ontario); there is some indication of elevated opioid mortality among Aboriginals. Vast discrepancies in availability and access to interventions exist; some recent pilot studies suggest improved care.
Conclusions:  Data regarding PO use and harms among Aboriginal people are limited, even though elevated problem levels are indicated; improved monitoring, and more effective yet culturally and contextually appropriate interventions for this acute problem are needed.

Key words: Aboriginal, Canada, harms, misuse, prescription opioids, review.

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