Third-year UBCO nursing student Thomas Pool works alongside community volunteer and registered nurse Sean Garden, as they check drug samples at Living Positive Resource Centre in downtown Kelowna (UBCO)

UBCO drug checking service now offered across Okanagan

The program is in partnership with Interior Health

UBC Okanagan’s Harm Reduction Team is expanding its drug-checking services to help communities across the region.

The program was first made available in Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon in December 2020, with the goal of providing people access to confidential, informative drug-checking.

“Our goal is to provide information about what is in clients’ substances and support informed decision-making,” UBCO health specialist Lauren Airth said.

“This is the same courtesy we extend to people who choose to drink; they always know the percentage of alcohol in their drink, how different drinks will affect them and the recommended limits alongside community support services when they’ve drunk too much.”

Airth added that everyone deserves as much information as possible about their substance of choice.

Over the last few years, Interior Health has also been expanding access to drug-checking services in communities across the region. Services include fentanyl test strips, take-home test kits, benzodiazepine test strips in some community locations, as well as using the Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy machines.

FTIR machines use infrared lights to give information about substances in someone’s drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, heroin or other items like fillers.

For more information on exact locations and times to drop-in and get your substance tested, visit the UBCO Campus Health site.

READ MORE: UBCO program increases drug checking availability in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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Drugs