BC’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall declared the overdose epidemic in BC a public health emergency in April 2016. Despite committed efforts, the epidemic continues, as overdose statistics show. This has significant impact on first responders, including frontline staff at Pacific AIDS Network (PAN) member and allied organizations, and especially people with lived experience (PWLE).
Responding to overdoses is one small piece of healthcare and advocacy services. PAN’s report, Canadian Drug Policy, Supervised Consumption Sites & Provincial Response to the Public Health Crisis of Overdose Deaths, was developed following the fall 2016 conference, where it became clear we needed to identify key action areas for going forward. One of the action areas was addressing the needs of our member organizations.
PAN executed further assessment of community needs: Responding to the Overdose Crisis in British Columbia: A Rapid Assessment of Frontline/ Community-Based Organizations’ Capacity-and-Skills-Building Needs.
Statistical Reports on Overdose Deaths
These detailed reports from the Coroner’s office show fentanyl overdose fatalities according to month, day of week, age, sex, health authority (including a breakdown of townships and cities), and type of substance mixed with fentanyl.
The BC Centre for Disease Control provides Overdose Data Reports that include coroners reports and maps showing overdose response from first responders.
Provincial Government Overdose Response Reports
In July of 2016 the BC government formed a Joint Task Force on Overdose Response. Regular progress reports outline action on BC’s public health emergency, identifying achievements to date and next steps underway. The provincial government maintains a page on the Overdose response which includes reports from the Task Force (below) and also offers Guidelines and Resources for Supportive Housing Providers, Homeless Shelter Providers and Regional Health Authorities on Overdose Prevention and Response.
April 2017: BC’s Opioid Overdose Response One-Year Update
March 2017 Progress Update on B.C.’s Response to the Opioid Overdose Public Health Emergency
January 2017 Progress Update on B.C.’s Response to the Opioid Overdose Public Health Emergency
November 2016 Progress Update on B.C.’s Response to the Opioid Overdose Public Health Emergency
September 2016 Progress Update on B.C.’s Response to the Opioid Overdose Public Health Emergency
Grief, Loss, and Burnout: Developing Resilience in Overdose Care
Take home Naloxone: A Guide to Promote Staff Resiliency and Prevent Distress After an Overdose Reversal.
Fentanyl Grief and Loss Support Group at Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House in Vancouver. Sundays 6PM-8 PM (February 2017- )
Psychological First Aid: Guide for Field Workers: This resource from the World Health Organization explains a framework for supporting people in ethical ways that respect their dignity, culture and abilities. Despite its name, psychological first aid covers both social and psychological support.
Overdose Prevention, Care and Recovery
Toward the Heart: This website was developed by the Provincial Harm Reduction program. It provides Naloxone information (and other drugs), training, and information on becoming a Take Home Naloxone site.
Find Take Home Naloxone kits in your area:
List of overdose prevention sites in BC
How to Use Naloxone (3-minute video)
Overdose Prevention Site Manual (Vancouver Coastal Health)
Indigenizing Harm Reduction: The First Nations Health Authority Indigenous Wellness team explores what harm reduction looks like from an Indigenous perspective, and how they facilitate dialogue with First Nations communities around the province. Scroll to bottom of page for video and slides.
People with Lived Experience / People Who Use Drugs
Peerology: A guide by and for people who use drugs on how to get involved in improving conditions for people who use drugs (PWUD).
VANDU: The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) is a group of users and former users who work to improve the lives of people who use drugs through user-based peer support and education.
VANDU (Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users) Manifesto for a Drug User Liberation Movement
SOLID is a Victoria, BC-based organization of current or former drug users that provides support, education and advocacy.
SANSU (Surrey Surrey Area Network of Substance Users Society) is an organization of current and former drug users in Surrey, BC that provides advocacy, harm reduction and social justice to people who use drugs in this region.
Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs is a group of people with lived experience of drug use; they emphasize the need for direct involvement of PWUD in policy making.
Treatment Resources and Care
HealthLink BC provides free, non-emergency information including substance use or mental health. Alternate is a call to 811.
“Working Together to Reduce Harm” is the motto of the Toward the Heart site from the provincial harm reduction program includes information on finding overdose prevention sites, what different drugs do, support for people who use drugs and how to report bad dope.
What is Harm Reduction? This explains the set of strategies and philosophies about reducing harm related to drug use and building a community of respect and support for people who use drugs.
Drug Dependence and Substance Use Disorder
What is addiction, drug dependence, or substance use disorder? Here it is in brief from the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine and the longer explanation from the American Psychiatric Association.
Drug Dependence Treatment and Care- Fundamental presentations from the Canadian Society of Addictions Medicine (2016)
Fentanyl isn’t the only issue: learn about carfentil and W-18, which are more toxic than fentanyl
Clinical Guidelines for Treatment and Research on Drug Use
“Methadone and Buprenorphine: Clinical Practice Guideline for Opioid Use Disorder” BC’s provincial clinical guidelines until June 4, 2017.
Guideline for Clinical Management of Opioid Use Disorder BC’s provincial guidelines effective June 5, 2017.
Policy, Reporting and Advocacy
Canadian Drug Policy Coalition works to support the development of a Canadian drug policy that’s science-based, guided by public health principles, and respectful of human rights. The CDPC’s work includes the involvement of people who use drugs.
The work of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network includes a commitment to reducing the harms associated with drugs and the harms caused by harsh, misguided drug laws.
International Doctors for Drug Policies The aims of this international group are to protect society and individuals from drug-related death and disease; put the health of people first; improve access to essential medicines, and expand access to evidence-based treatment.