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.

Just Posted

Abbotsford’s Wark, Team B.C. have solid start at Scotties

National champion set to be crowned on Sunday

Bearcats men, Cascades women volleyball teams head to provincials

Pacwest regular season wraps up, teams head to Cranbrook starting Thursday

Cyrus Centre participates in 2019 Coldest Night of the Year Walk

Event on Saturday, Feb. 23 brings awareness about homelessness

Snowfall warning: 5-10 cm expected in Lower Mainland

The snowfall will start Tuesday and carry on into the evening, before tapering off Wednesday

Your daily commute and weather forecast: Feb. 19, 2019

Snowfall warning in the Valley today. Expect major delays on the highway with low visibility

Mermen calendar targets ‘toxic masculinity,’ raises big money for charities

Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club gave a cheque for more than $202,000 to Violence Prevention NL

Man shot dead in front of Kamloops hotel may be case of mistaken identity: RCMP

Rex Gill, 44, was not previously known to Kamloops police unlike second shooting victim

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

Payless to close 248 Canadian stores, saying it’s ‘ill-equipped’ for market

The company will begin closing stores at the end of March

Make sure measles shots up to date, Public Health Agency says

Measles causes high fever, coughing, sneezing and a widespread painful rash

Super snow moon set to rise across B.C.

It is the biggest and brightest moon of the year

‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’: Seven children die in Halifax house fire

A man and woman remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon, the man with life-threatening injuries

5 to start your day

IHIT investing South Surrey homicide, B.C.’s budget set to focus on climate change, poverty and more

Minister says plans to fight poverty, climate change, focus of B.C. budget

The NDP said in its throne speech last week that affordability will be the hallmark of its initiatives

Most Read