A new mobile overdose prevention service is now open in Abbotsford to support people who use substances and help prevent overdoses and deaths.
The service uses a customized van in the area of Lonzo Road and Sumas Way and has harm-reduction and peer-support workers witness people as they consume substances, including inhalation. The site is open daily from noon to 6 p.m.
“The new mobile overdose prevention site in Abbotsford meets people where they are, with the services they need. This will save lives,” said Sheila Malcolmson, minister of mental health and addictions.
Fraser Health is partnering with Lookout Health and Housing Society – which operates the Riverside Shelter on Riverside Road – to run the service.
Clients can also access Naloxone kits and supplies at the mobile site.
In addition, Fraser Health outreach teams, including the new Overdose Outreach Team and the Integrated Homelessness Action Response Team, will be available to help connect people to other health services such as mental-health and substance-use supports.
Fraser Health CEO and president Dr. Victoria Lee said the overdose crisis is continuing to have a “significant impact” in the region and is a “tragic reminder of how an increasingly unpredictable and toxic drug supply combined with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are affecting people from all walks of life.”
“We must continue to think outside the box and find new ways to connect people to care, whether it’s stand-alone or mobile services, outreach, in-reach or virtual,” she said.
Currently, Fraser Health supports nine overdose prevention and supervised consumption services in the region. In addition, there are dozens of other locations – in shelters and supportive housing – where people can use substances in monitored settings.
Terry Brock, the Fraser region’s director of health for the Lookout Housing and Health Society, said the mobile overdose prevention service is “very much needed” in Abbotsford.
“We know that these sites reduce the harm, injury and deaths related to people using drugs alone,” he said.
Data from the BC Coroner’s Service shows that 68 people died of drug overdoses in Abbotsford between January and October 2021, the highest ever recorded in a calendar year.
Abbotsford, like many communities in the province, is experiencing an increasing number of toxic drug poisonings and toxic drug deaths due to the illicit toxic drug supply.
More information is available at fraserhealth.ca/overdose.