Substance Use News provides a snapshot of news and resources for those working to support folks who use substances. We share pieces on the social, medical and political responses to the opioid crisis, from advocacy to welcome change. See our Drug Use and Overdose Response page for resources on overdose services, team resilience, governmental reports, policy recommendations, and more.
August 28: BC’s Human Rights Tribunal will hear the case of a pharmacist who claims restrictions on opioid replacement medication for working healthcare professionals is discriminatory — even though he’s been cleared to re-apply for his licence.
In the past year, BC has successfully brought overdose deaths down to the lowest level in years. But medical experts and advocates say more needs to be done for survivors, who are sometimes left with brain damage that can worsen underlying addiction and substance use disorders.
BC Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy has announced new rules for recovery homes, including training for recovery home staff and mandatory personal care plans for each resident. Changes to the Community Care and Assisted Living Act will ensure that people living in supportive recovery homes throughout BC will be better protected and receive more personalized services and supports. New rates will come into effect in December 2019.
Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $572 million US to the state of Oklahoma, in a landmark case that saw the court find the company liable for the state’s opioid crisis. Purdue Pharma is also proposing to settle thousands of cases. These developments are the beginning of a far-reaching legal effort, in both the U.S and Canada, to hold drug makers accountable for the opioid epidemic.
The Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of British Columbia (NNPBC) and the Harm Reduction Nurses Association (HRNA) come together to call on the BC government to take immediate steps to move toward the decriminalization of people who use drugs. As nurses who work in BC and provide frontline care in the midst of this public health emergency, we see firsthand the impact of criminalization on our clients, on their families, on our practice and our communities.
Reports from the BC Coroners Service
Andy Watson, spokesperson for the Coroners Service, said while the decrease in overdose deaths is encouraging, the number of deaths in BC is still high relative to other provinces and historical, longer-term trends.
Dozens of scientists at UBC are working to address the overdose crisis. Every day, researchers across a variety of disciplines—from medicine to sociology, mathematics, nursing and engineering—are conducting research to gain a deeper understanding of the factors driving the crisis and to determine potential solutions.
Ontario’s Office of the Chief Coroner, together with Public Health Ontario, analyzed 1,337 opioid-related deaths in the province between July 2017 and June 2018. Their report found that nearly half the people who died did so alone, many in their own homes. Fentanyl or fentanyl analogues were involved in almost three-quarters (71 per cent) of the deaths.
While the overdose response has been somewhat effective, the crisis is in no way over. Why isn’t the public health approach saving more lives? One factor is that because drug use is criminalized, public health programming operates within severe legal constraints.
Opposing needle exchanges and insisting people with addiction must hit “rock bottom” flies in the face of reality.
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Questions? Feedback? Get in touch! Janet Madsen, Capacity Building and Knowledge Translation Coordinator, [email protected]