A British Columbia health expert says the province needs more overdose prevention sites and a renewed commitment to decriminalization as it tries to curb drug poisonings that kill six people a day.
Dr. Reka Gustafson, the chief medical health officer for Island Health, told about 300 addiction experts meeting in Victoria that drug treatment policies and programs must have the same status as any other health service.
North America’s first supervised injection site turns 20
Gustafson says dedicated cancer treatment facilities and anti-alcohol initiatives are proven measures and approaches that would benefit addiction treatment in B.C.
She says the province must do more to embrace overdose prevention sites as places that save lives and continue to support its decriminalization program despite the recent public debate about open drug use in public places.
Gustafson says health experts made a mistake during the pandemic telling people to isolate themselves in order to stop the spread of COVID-19, only to have overdose deaths spike.
A third of B.C.’s overdoses so far this year took place in social and supportive housing
About 13,000 people have died of drug overdoses in B.C. since the province declared a public health emergency in April 2016 as the opioid fentanyl made its way into the illicit market.
Gustafson says more work must be also be done by governments and addiction researchers to compile and review data on which treatment programs do and don’t work.
© 2023 The Canadian Press