FILE – An organizer displays a naloxone kit that people can pick up for free as International Overdose Awareness Day training seminar takes place at Centennial Square in Victoria, B.C., on Saturday August 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

FILE – An organizer displays a naloxone kit that people can pick up for free as International Overdose Awareness Day training seminar takes place at Centennial Square in Victoria, B.C., on Saturday August 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Safer drug supply crucial as B.C.’s naloxone program lauded: advocates

More than one million naloxone kits have been shipped out to 1,860 sites around B.C.

More than one million naloxone kits have been shipped to sites throughout the province amid an overdose crisis that’s killed more than 8,300 people since it was declared a public health emergency in 2016.

The kits are used to reverse opioid overdoses as part of the Take Home Naloxone program that’s been running since 2012. In 2016, the program was amended to no longer require a prescription and expanded to pharmacies and adn community sites. There are more than 1,860 distribution sites in B.C.

“Far too many people continue to lose their lives to toxic, illicit drugs – it is tragic and unacceptable,” said Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson. “Naloxone is an important tool that saves thousands of lives, but we know it is only one of many tools that is needed. B.C. is working from every angle to create a system of care that supports everyone, including expanding access to safer supply, working toward decriminalization, and increasing treatment options. We know there is much more to do and we are making the necessary changes needed to turn this crisis around.”

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, the Take Home Naloxone program averted 3,000 deaths between the start of 2105 and March of this year, but advocates said more needs to be done.

“Naloxone is a life saving tool for sure, but it is not enough,” said Jessica Van Norren, a program manager with Rain City Housing & Support Society who advises BCCDC as a person with lived or living experience of substance use through the Peer2Peer program. “Five years into the overdose crisis and we are still losing our friends, family and colleagues at unprecedented numbers. I have responded to hundreds of overdoses, and all but one has been reversed. In a time of a poisoning epidemic, and now benzos now being in our substances, naloxone is not enough.”

The overdose crisis appeared to lessen in 2019, when the province recorded 986 deaths compared to a record high 1,549 the year prior. However, the COVID-19 pandemic saw fatal overdoses escalate again last year, with the province reaching a grim new record of 1,726 lives lost to illicit drugs in 202o – an average of five deaths each day.

Experts have said the increase in deaths is linked to both isolation and a more toxic drug supply brought on by the pandemic.

Paul (last name not provided), a member of the organization PEEP which advises the BCCDC on the lived experiences of drug users, wrote that the solution needs to involve more than reversing overdoses.

“I believe naloxone is not enough, it does save lives but it’s only an afterthought, a band-aid solution, we have to focus on preventing overdoses, and the only solution I feel, is safer supply. Offer folks many options, in order to be able to meet people where they are at, if we decriminalize all substances and make substance misuse a medical issue, not a criminal one, more people would get the care they need,” he said.

READ MORE: Toxic drug crisis disproportionately killing B.C. First Nations people


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

B.C. overdoses

Just Posted

Aerial view of a wildfire at 16 Mile, 11 kilometres northwest of Cache Creek, that started on the afternoon of June 15. (Photo credit: BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire at 16 Mile now being held

Wildfire started on the afternoon of June 15 at 16 Mile, east of Highway 97

The Desert Daze Music Festival is doggone good fun, as shown in this photo from the 2019 festival, and it will be back in Spences Bridge this September. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
‘Best Little Fest in the West’ returning to Spences Bridge

Belated 10th anniversary Desert Daze festival going ahead with music, vendors, workshops, and more

Internet speed graphic, no date. Photo credit: Pixabay
Study asks for public input to show actual Internet speeds in BC communities

Federal maps showing Internet speeds might be inflated, so communities lose out on faster Internet

Fireworks are among the things now banned throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre, as the weather heats up and a dry summer looms. (Photo credit: Black Press files)
Category 2 and 3 open fires, fireworks now banned in Kamloops Fire Centre

Ban on certain types of fires and fire activities in place until Oct. 15

Cache Creek Village office, date unknown. (Photo credit: Wendy Coomber)
Cache Creek eyes water conservation bylaw as usage increases

Water bylaw was considered in 2019 but did not move forward

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

An inmate in solitary confinement given lunch on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. THE CANADIAN/Lars Hagberg
22-hour cap on solitary confinement for youth in custody still too long: B.C. lawyer

Jennifer Metcalfe was horrified to hear a youth had spent a total of 78 straight days in isolation

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

Most Read