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 and 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.
The resources provided here reflect requests coming out of the conference and the Rapid Assessment research findings. We will provide monthly updates thrrough Substance Use News blogs, build on these resources and welcome feedback.
PAN’s Substance Use News
March 2018: Drug checking resources in BC
January 2018: If you need to address stigma directed at people who use drugs, here are a few pieces that could help.
December 2017: January to October 31 shows a 136% increase of fentanyl detected deaths in BC when compared to the same period in 2016; Provincial Overdose Emergency Response Centre
November 2017: Provincial Progress Report, fighting stigma, drug testing pilot
September 2017: Hope for healing close to home; thoughts from doctors working in pain management
Summer 2017: Challenging Big Pharma, BC CDC Overdose Action Exchange II Report, Drug Testing
June 2017: Politics of harm reduction; World Drug Report; Updated resources
May 2017: Bill C-37 Becomes Law; Vancouver Police Department and Mayors’ Council release separate recommendations on opioid crisis.
April 2017: BC’s Public Health Crisis at One Year; BC Centre on Substance Use officially opens.
Statistical Reports on Overdose Deaths in BC
Fentanyl-Detected Illicit Drug Overdose Deaths January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2017 (Coroners Service, January 31, 2018)
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 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.
May 2017: Fifth Progress Update on B.C.’s Response to the Opioid Overdose Public Health Emergency
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
Community Recommendations and Reports
BC Overdose Action Exchange II Report BC Centre for Disease Control, August 2017
Overdose Data and First Nations in BC, First Nations Health Authority, July 2017
The Opioid Crisis: The Need for Treatment on Demand Vancouver Police Department, May 2017
The Overdose Crisis – Where To Next? AIDS Vancouver Island, 2017
Grief, Loss, and 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.
Holding on with Letting Go – Vikki Reyolds
“Leaning In” as Imperfect Allies in Community Work – Vikki Reynolds
Resisting Burnout – Vikki Reynolds
Explore more of Vikki Reynold’s Writing page
Explaining Harm Reduction with Hardhats, Seatbelts, and Sunscreen: Two minute stick-figure animation explains harm reduction principles and benefits.
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.
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 Checking as a Harm Reduction Intervention – Evidence Review Report (BC Centre on Substance Use, 2017)
Harm Reduction Saves Lives (Report, 2017)
Canadian Harm Reduction Network: “virtual meeting place for individuals and organizations dedicated to reducing the social, health and economic harms associated with drugs and drug policies.”
Harm Reduction International: “working to reduce the negative health, social and human rights impacts of drug use and drug policy by promoting evidence-based public health policies and practices, and human rights based approaches to drugs.”
Overdose Prevention, Care and RecoveryToward 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)
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.
The Fight Against Stigma
Northern Health’s Stop Stigma videos
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)
Treatment and Research on Drug Use
Guidelines for Clinical Management of Opioid Use Disorder BC’s provincial guidelines
Policy, Reporting and Advocacy
Harm Reduction Saves Lives (2017)
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.
Drug Policy Alliance: US-based non-governmental organization promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.