Northern Health is making changes to deal with the increasing number of overdoses. It says it is implementing an overdose prevention site at the Needle Exchange office on George Street. It’s hours will be increased and it will be open seven days a week.
The site is meant to provide a place where overdose victims can be safely monitored and treated. “Given the cold weather situation and a recent spike in overdoses in November, health authorities are moving quickly to set up overdose prevention sites in areas where we are seeing significant numbers of people overdosing,” said Health Minister Terry Lake.
“Overdose levels remain high in our region, and immediate action can save lives,” says Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Sandra Allison. “We’re expanding the hours we’ll be open with staff present to support people who are looking for a safe place to keep warm, and also for staff to be able to respond quickly if an overdose occurs.”
Public Health officials have also released advice for any drug users who may be a risk at coming into contact with opiods:
- Don’t use alone; have a naloxone kit handy and ensure the people with you know how to use it;
- Start with a small amount;
- Mixing substances, including alcohol, increases risk of overdose;
- Use where help is easily available (e.g., around other people);
- Use less. If you took a break, were in detox/treatment or jail, or are new to use, your tolerance is lower;
- If you have ever experienced an overdose, be aware that you are more likely to overdose again;
- Make a plan/know how to respond in case of an overdose.
This is the fourth overdose site set up by the provincial government in response to the opiod crisis. Sites have already been established in Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria.