Supplies like clean needles are available at the Overdose Prevention Society’s safe-injection site. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post John Lehmann

B.C.’s overdose prevention strategy sets blueprint for rest of world: study

Reseachers at University of Victoria call opening of overdose prevention sites ‘novel and nimble’

A new study out of the University of Victoria says B.C.’s “unprecedented” response to the overdose crisis can and should be expanded worldwide.

The study, led by researchers with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, involved working with a number of Island-based community groups that were opening overdose prevention sites and monitoring the roll out process and effectiveness.

“We found that these sites were a novel and nimble response to the overdose crisis which has affected communities not just across B.C., but around the world,” said institute scientist Bruce Wallace Thursday.

“Our hope is that the international community will look to this model as a way to quickly and effectively save lives – and use it beyond a public-health emergency context.”

READ MORE: Battle to beat AIDS offers lessons in fighting opioid crisis

READ MORE: There have been 1,380 overdose deaths in B.C. this year: Coroner

In 2016, 20 overdose prevention sites opened in B.C. without federal approval. In 2017, the federal government announced it would allow provinces and territories to open temporary sites as applications for permanent setups awaited what was criticized by advocates as a lengthy approval process by Health Canada.

The province has since launched more than 20 more overdose prevention sites – either as brick-and-mortar facilities or mobile units – and 11 supervised consumption sites.

More than 2,800 people have died of an illicit drug overdose in B.C. since 2017.

READ MORE: New in-depth report sheds light on who in B.C. is dying of drug overdoses

READ MORE: B.C. launches new drug-checking program, expands fentanyl testing

Overdose prevention sites were up and running within weeks of approval, the UVic study found, and people who used drugs were involved in planning, implementing and delivering the services.

The researchers said these sites combined the benefits of state-sanctioned injection services with community-driven implementation.

“This research questions the federal governments’ restrictive sanctioning processes, which have limited the expansion of SCS [Supervised Consumption Sites] internationally and are not necessarily aligned with the needs of people who use drugs,” said researcher Bernie Pauly.

READ MORE: Health minister announces $72M in emergency funding for B.C.’s opioid crisis

VIDEO: Kootenays’ first overdose-prevention site opens in Nelson

“These sites should be seen as not just a stopgap until a SCS receives approval in an area, but as an alternative or complementary service to the SCS model.”

B.C. remains the only jurisdiction in the world to create legislation to support overdose prevention sites.

While similar sites exist in Ontario, that province recently announced it would not allow any new sites to open, and existing sites would be rolled in with supervised consumption sites.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Cariboo vegetable farmer swamped by Fraser River flooding

Brianna van de Wijngaard was picking vegetables three feet below the water

Quesnel Salvation Army receives boost from Save-On-Foods

The food bank and soup kitchen received $1,660 through the store’s Share It Forward program

International Safe Travels designation program approved for Gold Rush Trail, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast

World Travel and Tourism Council approves, businesses and communities can apply

Quesnel to resume in-person council meetings July 7

Meeting rooms and council chamber occupancy limits have been established

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Cariboo, North Thompson region

Prince George, Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House all under watch

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

96-year-old woman scales B.C. butte with help of family, friends

‘I did as I was told and I enjoyed every minute of it’

Parallel crises: How COVID-19 exacerbated B.C.’s drug overdose emergency

Part 1: Officials say isolation, toxic drug supply, CERB, contributing to crisis

Canadians with disabilities disproportionately hit by COVID-19 pandemic

More than four out of 10 British Columbians aged 70 and up have various disabilities

Camping offers a great pandemic escape, for less money than you might think

But for many first-timers, knowing what to bring can be a challenge

Turbulence in Canadian opinion on airlines COVID-19 response: poll

Thousands of people have beseeched Transport Minister Marc Garneau to compel airlines to issue refunds,

Police issue warning after baby comes across suspected drugs in Kamloops park

The 11-month-old girl’s mother posted photos on social media showing a small plastic bag containing a purple substance

Most Read