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

Just Posted

Grand Forks nets $3.6M to upgrade Eastside reservoir

Necessary upgrades for the facility were identified nearly 10 years ago

Christina Lake fire department christens new boat

The department leveraged its members’ skills to repurpose a former recreational pontoon boat

Gun enthusiasts arrive in Kelowna for the Western Canadian Skeet Championship

The competition will be held from July 17-19, 2020 in Joe Rich

UPDATED: Interior Health to add 495 long-term seniors care beds

Nelson, Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton to receive new facilities

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Sources say Canada, U.S. likely to extend mutual travel ban into late August

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted at the possibility after a phone call with U.S. President

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Commercial huckleberry harvesting restricted in Kootenays

The province of B.C. has banned commercial-scale picking from July 15 to October 15

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Most Read