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Province continues efforts to tackle overdose crisis

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 12:58 PDT, Tue August 4, 2020

More people in BC will have access to life-saving overdose prevention, treatment and supports.

These supports are part of the $10.5 million in funding that will accelerate the response to an increasingly toxic illicit drug supply due to COVID-19.

“There have been devastating consequences for people who use substances during dual public health emergencies,” said Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy. “Last month saw a record number of lives lost to overdose—all the more heartbreaking since before COVID-19 we had managed to bring deaths down for the first time.”

The province says new funding will further scale up overdose prevention services, expand access to safe prescription alternatives to separate people from toxic street drugs and add new outreach teams to help prevent overdose deaths, save lives and connect more people to treatment and recovery throughout the province.

To reduce the number of people using alone, funding will be used to open 17 new supervised consumption services and 12 new inhalation services in communities hit the hardest by the overdose crisis.

Expanded access to safe prescription alternatives will also be offered for people at high risk of overdoses. Nurses in various communities will be added to conduct initial patient assessments. This will allow prescribers, pharmacists and care teams to help more people get the medications they need to stabilize and stay safe during this challenging time.

Forty-two new full-time registered nurses, psychiatric nurses, social workers and peer support workers will be added to 14 new and existing interdisciplinary outreach teams throughout the province. Working in groups of three, these workers will help connect people with substance-use challenges, including those who use drugs alone, to treatment, recovery and services that best suit their needs. In addition, these teams will be vital in bringing services to people who may be unable to access services as a result of COVID-19.

Team members will use a culturally safe, trauma-informed approach to care to engage individuals at-risk and those who have experienced stigma and discrimination while accessing health care.

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