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

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

lotto max logo
Are you the lucky winner?

A $1 million ticket was bought in Burns Lake for Friday’s Lotto… Continue reading

The 2021 Walk to End ALS took place in Burns Lake on June 19. A walk around the LDSS track and a draw for the quilt made by Jenny Pirie was organized by Ronda Payne for her friend Barb Wilson. Wilson was diagnosed with ALS in 2016. The draw raised roughly $6,300 from all across Canada, with tickets being bought from as far as Ontario. Burns Lake local won Patti Dube won the draw and the quilt. The money raised will now go to the ALS Society which in turn will be going towards more ALS research and for ALS Societies to provide support to other individuals and families living with this disease. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
VIDEO: Walk to End ALS held in Burns Lake

The 2021 Walk to End ALS took place in Burns Lake on… Continue reading

Grad 2021 parade through the village. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
VIDEO: LDSS graduation 2021 parade in Burns Lake

Lakes District Secondary School (LDSS) in Burns Lake had a graduation parade… Continue reading

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Val Litwin is the latest candidate to declare his bid for the B.C. Liberal leadership. (Litwin campaign video)
Political newcomer joins contest for B.C. Liberal leadership

Val Litwin a former B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO

Golden Ears Mountains, captured in May 2021. (Black Press Media files)
2nd year of day passes required for entry into 5 provincial parks launches in B.C.

Pilot program seeks to protect the environment by addressing visitor surges amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)
Tk’emlups preparing for archaeological work at B.C. residential school site where remains found

The 215 graves are, to the band’s knowledge, undocumented deaths for which it is still collecting records

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Most Read