Just in time for Overdose Awareness Day and the four year anniversary of the BC Take Home Naloxone program, we have some exciting new materials to show off. We teamed up with Inner City Youth to create an art booklet based on a research project with street-involved youth in Vancouver. They were asked about their experience with the Take Home Naloxone program and some of their illuminating comments are featured alongside illustrations by youth artists.
We also released a new video that trains youth how to recognize and respond to overdoses. Check it out below and share it! This is our second training video after producing a version for adults that gives background information on the life-saving program.
Expanding Access: Now Available in Pharmacies
BC’s Take Home Naloxone program continues to distribute kits to people at high risk of an overdose and has expanded to 284 sites across the province, including 51 emergency departments and 3 corrections facilities.
Anyone who wishes to carry naloxone to respond to an opioid overdose can now get training and purchase naloxone through a pharmacy — no prescription needed. Over 1,000 pharmacists in BC have been trained in education sessions.
Although naloxone is currently only available as an injection, a nasal spray may be available soon. Stay tuned!
BC Declares Public Health Emergency
On April 14, 2016, for the first time ever, BC's provincial public health officer declared an emergency in response to the dramatic rise in drug overdose and deaths. There were 476 apparent illicit drug overdose deaths in 2015, up 30% from 2014 and an all-time high. In comparison, there were 300 deaths in incidents involving motor vehicles, and 122 homicides for all of 2015.
As the rate of overdoses has grown, so has the proportion of deaths where the toxic synthetic opioid fentanyl was detected. From January to June of this year, fentanyl was detected in 62% of all illicit drug overdose deaths. It was involved in only 5% of deaths in 2012 and approximately 30% in 2015.
BC is the first province in Canada to take this kind of action. Declaring a public health emergency grants BC health officials the power to collect and share real-time data on overdoses to help target prevention and response activities.