August 2017

Our commitment to harm reduction

When Ontario NPs gained the authority to prescribe controlled substances in April 2017, the Canadian Council of Registered Nurse Regulators (CCRNR), of which the College is a member, released recommendations and strategies addressing the opioid crisis.

Most of the recommendations align with strategies the College had already implemented. However, we’d like to highlight one of the recommendations related to educating nurses about harm reduction and opioid agonist treatment. (Opioid agonists are used to treat individuals who have an addiction to opioid drugs.)

NPs who have completed the education required to prescribe controlled substances are authorized to prescribe the opioid agonist suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone). However, they are not authorized to prescribe methadone, which is another opioid agonist.

The College supports these evidence-based recommendations for health care professionals who work with clients with addictions:

  • You should receive relevant education

  • You should develop a mentorship or consultative relationship with an expert colleague, and

  • You should use the best available evidence.

NPs are accountable for ensuring they have the knowledge, skill and judgment to secure client safety when performing any nursing activity. They are also accountable to the expectations in the Nurse Practitioner practice standard.

The College has a list of resources for nurses working with clients with addictions. For more information on NPs prescribing controlled substances, read our frequently asked questions.

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