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  • Intranasal Naloxone

    August 29th, 2016
  • Anyone can now buy naloxone from BC Pharmacies

    March 24th, 2016

    On March 22, 2016, Health Canada announced the removal of prescription status for naloxone when used outside a hospital setting. Today, the College of Pharmacists of BC announced that naloxone will be listed as a Schedule II drug, making it available behind the counter of pharmacies in BC.

    The BCCDC Take Home Naloxone program is in full support of this regulatory change as it increases the accessibility of naloxone to those who have previously been ineligible to obtain it. Anyone who wishes to carry naloxone to respond to an opioid overdose will be able to get training and purchase naloxone through a community pharmacy.

    This regulatory change does not affect the existing operation of the BCCDC Take Home Naloxone program, which will continue to distribute kits to vulnerable and marginalized populations with the support of our amazing community partners. Existing processes and requirements will remain unchanged, and only approved sites will be able to obtain and distribute kits.

    Community pharmacies will NOT be eligible to receive BCCDC’s naloxone kits and are required to obtain naloxone directly from wholesale manufacturers. More details will be made available through the College of Pharmacists of BC

    The BC Centre for Disease Control, in collaboration with the College of Pharmacists of BC, has developed training materials to assist pharmacists in this transition and to provide recommendations based on consultations with community partners and peer groups.Training sessions for pharmacists are available here,

    We are very grateful to the ongoing support and dedicati Read More...

  • Firefighters to Carry Naloxone

    February 16th, 2016

    On January 29th, 2016 the Ministry of Health announced a new initiative which will see specially trained and licensed firefighters in BC permitted to carry and administer naloxone in drug overdose emergency cases.

    This move is in response to the increasing number of overdoses occurring across the province and will be overseen by BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS).

    For further information contact Barbara Fitzsimmons ( or Nancy Kotani ( directly.


  • Overdose Awareness Day 2015

    August 25th, 2015

    Overdoses happen. What leads to an overdose, what that overdose looks like and what the overdose response should be differs by substance type. On International Overdose Awareness Day, we are launching a series of posters that explain overdose risks, overdose signs and the appropriate overdose response for stimulants, opioids and alcohol. We encourage you to share these posters within your networks to prevent harms associated with overdoses.

    Click on the images below to download posters about stimulant, opioid or alcohol overdoses.

     Stimulants Opioids Alcohol 



  • Fentanyl Update

    August 11th, 2015

    Given the extreme toxicity of fentanyl and the large increase in fentanyl-related deaths in past 12 months, we believe that there is an increased amount of the drug in circulation. We advise service providers & the public to become informed about the dangers of fentanyl adulteration in street drugs, and raise awareness among people who might potentially use these drugs. Learn more at

    Pills or powders containing illicitly-manufactured fentanyl are especially dangerous because there is no quality control or regulated manufacturing process. These drugs may contain toxic contaminants or have different levels of fentanyl in each batch. Even pills produced in the same batch may have little to lethal levels of fentanyl.

    Click here to learn about the signs of an opioid overdose.

    Click here to about where you can get overdose prevention, recognition & response training, and take home naloxone kits.


  • Harm Reduction @ Shambhala

    May 5th, 2015

    “You  basically saved my Shambhala by the test I just got” (male, 25, BC)

    For many years ANKORS has provided harm reduction and pill and powder testing services at the Shambhala Music Festival. We commissioned a survey to assess use of our harm reduction programming at the 2013 festival and to learn about festival-goers’ patterns of alcohol and drug use. We obtained 182 completed questionnaires from ANKORS service users—or “guests”—over 5 festival days. The final report has now been posted here.


  • Public Health & Law Enforcement Partner to Curb Fentanyl-Related Overdoses

    March 2nd, 2015

    According to the BC Coroners Service, the number of illicit drug deaths where fentanyl has been detected increased from 5% in 2012 to over 25% in 2014. As many cases are stil under investigation, it is not possible to conclude whether fentanyl is a cause or contributory factor in these deaths. 

    Concerned with this trend, BC's public health and law enforcement agencies have partnered to lauch Know Your Source, a public safety campaign aimed at raising awareness of toxicity of illicitly produced fentanyl. 

    Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid roughly 50-80 times more toxic than morphine and primarily prescribed to treat severe pain. However, illicitly produced fentanyl is being mixed into many street drugs & sold as pills or powders.

    Learn more at Know Your Source or our Fentanyl page.


  • BC Take Home Naloxone program marks 2 year anniversary

    August 26th, 2014

    August 31, 2014, marks International Overdose Awareness Day and the anniversary of BC's Take Home Naloxone (THN) program. Being the only provincial program in Canada that has been in continuous operation for more than a year, the BC THN program aims to reduce harms and deaths due to opioid overdose. 

    At 51 participating sites spread across all five regional health authorities, site staff provide training on how to prevent, recognize and respond to an opioid overdose, including administering naloxone. Naloxone is a safe medication that restores breathing during an overdose event; it cannot be abused and has no effect in the absence of opioids.

    The program has received reports of over 125 overdose reversals over the past 24 months. The evaluation of the program in its first year of implementation is now available here. Additional program stats can be viewed by clicking on the infographic.



  • Harm Reduction in BC

    May 12th, 2014

    Did you know that over 4 million condoms and 8 million needles were distributed in 2013 through harm reduction distribution sites in BC? 

    Harm Reduction in BC

    Such harm reduction initiatives have helped to decrease the rate of HIV and other bloodborne infections among people who use drugs. 

    This infographic created by the Centre for Addictions Research BC showcases other effective harm reduction programs that promote the well-being of British Columbians.

    Thank you to all our government and community partners who support and deliver these programs on the ground. 


  • Doctors of BC endorses BC Take Home Naloxone program

    April 10th, 2014

    Earlier this week, Doctors of BC (formerly the British Columbia Medical Association) passed a policy resolution that promotes harm reduction efforts that strengthen communities and improve the health of British Columbians. The resolution states:

    Doctors of BC“The Doctors of BC supports community-based programs that offer naloxone and other opioid overdose prevention services. The Doctors of BC also encourages education of health workers and opioid users about the use of naloxone in preventing overdose fatalities”

    In a letter addressed to Dr. Jane Buxton, the Harm Reduction Lead at BCCDC, Doctors of BC President Dr. William Cunningham recognized the importance of the BC Take Home Naloxone (THN) program to continue preventing overdose fatalities.

    The BC harm reduction program would like to thank Dr. Roy Purssell, Chair of the Emergency Medical Services Committee for Doctors of BC, and the Medical Lead for the BC Drug and Poison Information Centre, for bringing the resolution to the Council on Health Promotion and the Board of Directors for approval.

    We also thank all staff and peers at participating BC THN sites for their continued enthusiasm, support and dedication to promote health and wellness for all British Columbians.


  • Multilingual Posters for Methadone Changes

    January 29th, 2014

    Starting Feb 1st, methadone dispensed from pharmacies in BC will change from a compounded 1mg/ml solution dispensed as a orange flavored drink, to a standard 10mg/ml, cherry flavored liquid called Methadose®. The new solution is 10 times more concentrated than the methadone being used now, so a smaller volume will be dispensed to patients. For more details refer to our earlier post here.

    Raising public awareness of the change in formulation is crucial at this time. Our posters are now available in multiple languages (click on language).

    Full posterEnglish

    Simplified Chinese


    Landscape English

    Simplified Chinese 


  • Upcoming Changes to BC Methadone Maintenance Program

    January 10th, 2014

    As of February 1st, 2014 the formulation of methadone dispensed from pharmacies in BC will change from a compounded 1mg/ml solution dispensed as a orange flavored drink, to a standard 10mg/ml, cherry flavored liquid called Methadose®. The new solution is 10 times more concentrated than the methadone being used now, so a smaller volume will be dispensed to patients.

    Full poster for HR sitesThe other change to note is that ‘carries’ will no longer be diluted, but will be dispensed in small, child-proof bottles; each containing a daily dose of the cherry-flavoured liquid. Despite the smaller volume, the effect of Methadose®is the same as the methadone currently being compounded.

    Same Medicine, Less JuiceSpread the word by putting up posters at your site! (click image to download)   

     ***NEW*** Think Before You Drink poster (available in more sizes here)


  • Happy Holidays

    December 23rd, 2013

    Thank you to all our community partners for sharing with us many moments of joy, frustration, wonder and hope in 2013. Your collaboration and hard work has helped us achieve many successes this past year, and together we’ve taken incremental steps toward building healthier communities in BC.

    Happy Holidays 

    We really appreciate your ongoing support and commitment to harm reduction, and look forward to more roller coaster rides in 2014.

     Warm wishes for a wonderful holiday and fabulous new year!


  • World AIDS Day

    November 29th, 2013

    People who use drugs are at greater risk for contracting HIV. This is mainly through using shared drug paraphernalia, including needles, syringes and crack pipes, and having unprotected sex. To reduce the risk of HIV and Hepatitis C transmission, the Canadian AIDS Society promotes the implementation of harm reduction strategies and programs. These provide a continuum of care, and complement efforts in prevention, education, treatment and enforcement.

    Harm reduction recognizes that people who use drugs are not always able to abstain from using and provides a safe alternative.  BC offers a variety of safer sex, safer injection and safer inhalation supplies (see supply catalogue). This follows the new pan-Canadian best practice recommendations document  for harm reduction programs that provide services to people who use drugs and are at risk for HIV, HCV and other harms.

    December 1 is World AIDS Day and the start of Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week. Let us take a moment to renew our commitment to "Getting to Zero" by continuing harm reduction and treatment efforts.

    A list of AIDS Awareness events in BC can be found at

    For more information on HIV, check out


  • Webinar: New recommendations for the delivery of harm reduction programming in Canada

    November 7th, 2013

    A new best practice recommendations document is now available for harm reduction programs that provide services to people who use drugs and are at risk for HIV, HCV and other harms. This document was created to help Canadian programs keep pace with the most up to date scientific evidence related to harm reduction.

    This webinar is for service providers, community members and policy makers who would like to become familiar with the newest best practice recommendations for Canadian harm reduction programs that serve people who use drugs and are at risk for HIV, HCV and other harms.

    Date: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 10:00am PST (1:00 pm EST)

    Presenter:  Carol Strike, Associate Professor of Social and Behavioural Health Sciences, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

    Topics covered: needle and syringe distribution; other injection equipment distribution; safer crack cocaine smoking equipment distribution; disposal and handling of used drug use equipment; safer drug use education; and education and naloxone distribution in opioid overdose prevention.

    > > > Space is limited, so register here today! < < <


  • BC THN Program: A Way Back From Darkness

    August 28th, 2013

    Naloxone is a safe and effective medication that can quickly reverse an opioid overdose. The BC Centre for Disease Control launched the BC Take Home Naloxone (THN) pilot program in August 2012 to provide overdose prevention and response training to people at risk and their friends and family. Only those who use opioids and complete the training are prescribed and dispensed a THN kit from a participating site. The kit contains the tools necessary to administer naloxone in the event of an overdose, giving people immediate access to a potentially life-saving treatment.

    With the support of our community partners, we have much reason to celebrate at the one year mark. As of August 15, 2013, the BC THN program has:

    • Reversed 35 unintentional opioid overdoses
    • Distributed over 400 naloxone kits to people who use opioids from 24 sites in 4 health authorities
    • Trained an additional 150 service providers and friends and family members of people who use opioids in OD prevention and response in BC.


  • Take Home Naloxone Program: Nine Month Review

    May 17th, 2013

    Naloxone is a safe and effective medication that can quickly reverse an opioid overdose. As of August 2012, the BC Centre for Disease Control launched the BC Take Home Naloxone (THN) pilot program to provide overdose prevention and response training to people at risk and their friends and family. Only those who use opioids and complete the training are prescribed and dispensed a THN kit from a participating site. The kit contains the tools necessary to administer naloxone in the event of an overdose giving people immediate access to a potentially life-saving treatment.

    In the first nine months of the program, this is what we have reported back:

    • There have been 14 known overdose reversals.
    • 995 THN kits have been sent to 18 sites in 3 health authorities.
    • 248 people have completed the training and received a kit.
    • More than 400 people have been trained in OD prevention and response in BC. This included people who use drugs, their friends and family, and service providers.


  • Survey on Drug Use Among Harm Reduction Clients

    October 31st, 2012

    The Harm Reduction Strategies and Services Committee implemented a survey at harm reduction sites across BC to determine drug use trends outside of Vancouver and Victoria where there is little research. For more information check out the Survey on Drug Use Among Harm Reduction Clients report or our e'zine article.

     Above is a map of the 28 harm reduction sites across BC who participate in this pilot project. We had 4-9 sites per health authority.


  • Bringing Naloxone to BC

    April 10th, 2012


    The Harm Reduction Program at the BC Centre for Disease Control is developing a program to increase access to naloxone across BC. Working alongside their many partners, the Harm Reduction Program hopes to increase the public’s awareness and accessibility to naloxone, as well as, have it made available at community service organizations. The film depicts the importance of this initiative and its impact on the community. 


  • Welcome to Toward the Heart!

    March 20th, 2012

    Toward the Heart

    This is our new website to provide resources and support for harm reduction service providers, clinical staff, users, and the public. Our goal is to have an educational and networking tool to help spread the word about harm reduction best practices. "Toward the heart" is a reference to the medical technique of always injecting substances in the same direction of bloodflow towards the heart.

    Soon we'll be launching our first E-Zine! That's basically a magazine-styled website that can be emailed too. We encourage you to sign up to our mail list so you'll receive our inaugural issue.

    We're also on Facebook & Twitter too. Please join  and follow us, and share our posts and tweets!