Opioid agonist treatment

Opioid agonist treatment (OAT) uses medications such as buprenorphine/naloxone and methadone to treat opioid use disorder with the goal of reducing drug-related harms and supporting long-term recovery.

Physicians seeking education and guidelines regarding treatments for opioid use disorder should contact the BC Centre of Substance Use.

What is OAT?

OAT helps treat addiction to opioid drugs such as heroin, oxycodone and fentanyl.

OAT refers to medication that prevents withdrawal and lessens cravings. OAT options include methadone or buprenorphine (Suboxone). OAT also reduces the risk of overdose and other dangers associated with using illicit opioids.

What is the regulatory role of the College?

While the College does not create prescribing guidelines, there is an expectation that registrants prescribe in accordance with the relevant standards, best practices, and guidelines, and consider risk mitigation and evidence-based practice. It is the responsibly of the College’s drug programs to oversee this. The program also ensures that all OAT prescribers in the province have completed the necessary education to prescribe.

Drug programs helps protect patient health and safety by responding to, and reviewing, any potential prescribing concerns and providing registrants education, resources, and guidance where required. Drug programs makes sure that prescribers have the tools they need to prescribe safely to patients, where required.

Guidelines

The BC Centre of Substance Use (BCCSU) is responsible for the development of clinical care guidance for prescribers of opioid use disorder treatment in BC.  

Prescribing opioid agonist treatment

Completion of the Provincial Opioid Addiction Treatment Support Program at the BC Centre on Substance Use is mandatory in order to meet the requirement for full oral OAT prescribing in BC.  

The Provincial Opioid Addiction Treatment Support Program consists of:

  • an eight- to ten-hour online course (includes both Mainpro+ and MOC CME credits)
  • completion of a workbook with clinical cases
  • two half-days of in-person preceptorship and any additional learning as needed