Pain drove B.C. woman and 'thousands' to street drugs after medication cut off (Dr. Evan Wood)

Desperate for relief from unbearable pain following knee surgery, Lorna Bird says she was forced to buy drugs from the Downtown Eastside streets of Vancouver when her doctor stopped prescribing an opioid in response to new standards aimed at preventing fatal overdoses.

“I started with heroin because I couldn't stand the pain,” Bird said, recalling her fears about dying from fentanyl-laced street drugs because “everybody was croaking” and she didn't want her grandchildren dealing with that outcome.

Evan Wood, director of the BC Centre on Substance Use, said the opioid crisis demands a two-pronged approach — one to deal with patients who've become dependent on the narcotics and another for people who have never been prescribed the narcotics but need pain management.

Camille Bains reports

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