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

Kaslo bus fueled by vegetable oil to begin service next month

Mountain Man Mike’s will run routes to Vancouver and eventually Edmonton

KAST receives $15,000 for inclusive programs at Nelson Tech Club

‘These programs will be a perfect introduction to using technology’

Nelson to send two musicians to provincial Festival of The Arts

Lucas Alexander and Nico Bucher will compete in Chilliwack later this month

Police investigating felling of old cedars at Cottonwood Lake

One of the cedars was 300 to 450 years old

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Most Read