As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)

Services offered to combat Okanagan’s opioid crisis

Part three: The opioid crisis and the B.C. Interior

Since declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency in 2016, significant strides have been put in place throughout B.C. to combat the issue.

While programs like Turning Points Collaborative (previously John Howard Society) have long operated in Vernon, Interior Health has also introduced a continuum of substance use services over the past three years in an attempt to combat the troubling number of overdose deaths in the Okanagan.

This continuum is categorized under three different subsections: prevention, harm reduction and treatment/recovery.

“We have been working over the past three years to implement new services based on what research says is the best practice and what the community needs in addition to what is currently offered,” said Colleen McEwan, health service administrator of mental health and substance use services at Interior Health.

PART ONE: The opioid crisis and the B.C. Interior

PART TWO: Overdoses overwhelming in B.C. Interior

The first of these sections is prevention. Interior Health has begun working proactively by hiring an overdose prevention knowledge coordinator to educate residents on the topic and teach people how to properly use naloxone kits, an overdose reversal medication. A program, titled Preventure, is also now being delivered to all Grade 8 students in District 22 to identify those who may be more likely to use substances in the future in an effort to intervene early.

The second aspect of the continuum is harm reduction and includes targeted outreach measures and overdose prevention sites — a site is expected to open in Vernon later this year.

“Our outreach workers are working on the street-level to connect with people who may be contemplating recovery,” said Megan Desimone, manager of mental health and substance use services in Vernon. “We’re really just trying to make those initial connections and reduce some of the harms around what people are using and hopefully work to move these people along the continuum and into treatment.”

The final sector of the three-layered continuum is treatment and recovery.

“This is probably the sector with the biggest part right now, especially in terms of dollars,” Desimone said.

This includes long and short-term counseling, outreach and support workers, intensive day treatment programs, supported recovery beds like those at Bill’s Place or Round Lake Treatment Centre, and Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT), which includes treatments like suboxone and methadone which are offered through a clinic in downtown Vernon.

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, the rapid expansion of harm reduction services has prevented more than 3,000 possible deaths during a 20-month period between 2016 and 2017. A study, released June 5, estimates that without access or harm reduction responses and strategies, the number of deaths in B.C. would be 2.5 times higher.

Related: Top videos for 2018: The opioid crisis

Related: Overdose training challenge picks up in Vernon

To report a typo, email:
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com
.



Follow me on Twitter @BrieChar
Email me brieanna.charlebois@vernonmorningstar.com
Like us on Facebook.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Column: Africa is a wise teacher

Council Report by Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison

Silverbacks’ Hirose named to All-Star squad

Veteran defenceman coming off an impressive 2019-2020 season.

WorkBC celebrates patrons with chilli cook off

Employees also dressed in their favourite hockey jerseys for the event

Treacherous road leads to North Shuswap front-end collision

Chase RCMP say icy, steep, narrow road likely to blame for accident

Suspected drunk driving in Shuswap leads to discovery of rifle

Driver claims weapon for protection against cougars and bears

Developer of RV resort west of Revelstoke ordered to stop selling lots

The Superintendent of Real Estate has serious concerns that buyers may not receive their purchase

Police dog located accused murderer in dumpster near West Kelowna crime scene

Tejwant Danjou’s application to have his impromptu guilty plea removed was accepted by the court

Police dog located accused murderer in dumpster near West Kelowna crime scene

Tejwant Danjou’s application to have his impromptu guilty plea removed was accepted by the court

North Okanagan prays for women of Zimbabwe

World Day of Prayer celebrated in 2,000 Canadian communities, one of 170 countries

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Trans Canada east of Revelstoke to be closed overnight

The highway will reopen at 10 a.m. Feb. 29

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Most Read