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18 Aug 2017

B.C. report calls for decriminalization of illicit drugs to quell opioid epidemic

B.C. Centre for Disease Control releases list of recommendations to prevent overdose deaths

CBC News

August 17, 2017


The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has released 10 recommendations to reduce the number of overdose deaths across B.C., a list that includes the decriminalization of illicit drugs.

More than 100 stakeholders gathered at the B.C. Overdose Action Exchange meeting in June to develop the report, which seeks to take action on the province's opioid epidemic that has claimed an unprecedented 800 lives since January 2017.

"Every month, when the [overdose] numbers come out, people are kind of holding their breath that it might be going down," said Dr. Mark Tyndall, the executive medical director of the BCCDC.

  • More than 4 people a day die in B.C. from illicit drugs, coroner says

"It is extremely disheartening, especially when you think the most vulnerable people have probably already passed away."

27 Jul 2017

Feds approve Ottawa’s first supervised injection site

by Jon Willing


The first supervised injection site in the nation’s capital could be open within months now that the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre has a conditional approval from Health Canada.

The federal government signed off on the health centre’s application Wednesday after receiving the request for an injection site last January.

Once a follow-up inspection is done and provincial money comes through, clients will enter one of five injection stations on the first floor of the health centre’s facility on Nelson Street and shoot his or her drugs under the supervision of health experts.

Rob Boyd, director of the harm-reduction program at the centre, said staff can now focus on renovations for the injection room and work with the province on funding.

He wants to have the injection site up and running as soon as possible, but he expects it won’t be until October that the service is ready.

“For many of our clients, this is a difference between life and death,” Boyd said. “This is going to make a huge positive impact.”

19 Jul 2017

Ontario study raises red flags over methadone distribution


The Globe and Mail

More than half of the methadone distributed in Ontario is prescribed by just 57 doctors, most of whom work in high-volume clinics that provide assembly-line medical care to the burgeoning number of patients struggling with opioid addictions, a new study says.

The authors of a report published on Wednesday in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence say their findings are proof of an open secret in addictions medicine: that past financial incentives from the Ontario government helped to concentrate treatment in chains of clinics where opioid-dependent patients can access methadone, but little else in the way of counselling or physician support.

19 Jul 2017

Drug users share ideas to fix fentanyl crisis

Rafferty Baker, CBC News


CBC News asked street drug users in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside their opinions on what might reduce the number of people succumbing to fatal opioid overdoses.

Give users access to clean, predictable drugs

Danielle Trudeau, 43, has been addicted to drugs for 25 years. In that time Trudeau has overdosed about 15 times — but 10 of those overdoses happened in the past three months.

She said two things could help improve the situation: access to affordable housing and access to clean, predictable drugs.

Trudeau said users have a hard time distinguishing what drugs they're consuming. 

"This stuff keeps changing colour all the time, so you know, you can't keep on top of it, the stuff that's overdosing everybody," said Trudeau, who uses heroin.

"It used to be all one colour, now it's changing colour and just when we all start to get used to what dose we can take, it changes again."

13 Jul 2017

Overdose warning system aims to alert users about potentially deadly drugs

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press


VANCOUVER -- Medical health officers in the Vancouver area are aiming to quickly warn drug users about clusters of overdoses and batches of contaminated drugs based on reports from people who use illegal substances.

Sara Young, the regional leader of mental health and substance use for Vancouver Coastal Health, said the data would help staff decide what action needs to be taken to prevent fatal overdoses in the midst of an opioid overdose crisis.

The pilot project started Tuesday with an online web form and a texting service that can be used by people who have registered to receive alerts, said Young, who worked with substance users to create the alert process.

12 Jul 2017

Oregon bill decriminalizes possession of heroin, cocaine and other drugs

By Nicole Lewis

First-time offenders caught with small amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other illegal drugs will face less jail time and smaller fines under a new bill approved by the Oregon legislature that aims to curb mass incarceration.

The Oregon legislature passed a bill late last week that reclassifies possession of several drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor, reducing the punishments and expanding access to drug treatment for people without prior felonies or convictions for drug possession. Oregon lawmakers hope to encourage drug users to seek help rather than filling up the state’s prisons as an epidemic of abuse spreads.

“We are tying to move policy towards treatment rather than prison beds,” said state Sen. Jackie Winters (R), co-chair of the Public Safety Committee and a supporter of the bill. “We can’t continue on the path of building more prisons when often the underlying root cause of the crime is substance use.”

07 Jun 2017

Canadian opioid overdose data provide only a partial picture of death toll

by Kelly Grant and Karen Howlett


Nearly seven people a day died of opioid-related overdoses in Canada last year, according to the first official attempt to measure the toll that the powerful drugs, including illicit fentanyl, have taken from coast to coast.

In a slim report released on Tuesday, a national advisory committee on the opioid epidemic said there were at least 2,458 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada in 2016, representing an average of almost seven a day or 8.8 fatalities for every 100,000 people in the country.

However, the national snapshot is far from complete: The committee declined to release preliminary figures by province, the total does not include Quebec, and the data from Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador are from 2015, making them more than a year out of date.

31 May 2017

Naloxone kits now in rural eastern Ontario English schools

Ottawa's English school boards working on anti-opioid overdose plans of their own

By Andrew Foote

Around 150 English schools just outside the City of Ottawa now have naloxone kits in their offices and staff trained to use them, which board officials say is a proactive move to prevent a potential fentanyl crisis in their communities.

On Tuesday, more than 100 staff members from all 50 schools in the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario gathered in Cornwall, Ont., and Kemptville, Ont., for 30-minute training sessions on how to use naloxone nasal spray.

Naloxone is an antidote that can reverse the harmful effects of an opioid overdose and save someone's life. 

"It's literally putting the medication in someone's nose and pulling a plunger, then moving them into a recovery position," said William Gartland, the board's director of education, who took the training on Tuesday.

11 May 2017

Witnesses to drug overdoses can now call 911 without fearing criminal charges

May 09, 2017 by Samantha Beattie Waterloo Chronicle


It just got a little easier to save the lives of people who are overdosing on drugs.

Under the Good Samaritan Overdose Act, passed last week in the House of Commons, those who witness an overdose and call 911 get immunity from simple drug possession charges.

Also, a person on probation or parole, with a court order not to be around narcotics, will not face breach charges when reporting an overdose.

The Good Samaritan law, private members Bill C-224, is part of the federal government’s Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy announced in December. The creation of the law stems from Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council research done in 2012 that found a major barrier to witnesses calling for help in the event of an overdose was fear of criminal repercussions, said Michael Parkinson, WRCPC’s community engagement coordinator.

04 May 2017

Good Samaritan Drug overdose bill to become law

Bill protects people who call to report overdoses from being prosecuted for drug possession.

By: Ryan Tumilty Metro

A law to protect people from facing drug charges if they call to report an in-progress overdose is set to become law.

After passing the Senate with a few amendments, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, cleared its final legislative hurdle Wednesday night in the House of Commons.

The law makes clear that police will not pursue minor charges like drug possession against anyone who calls to report that someone is having an overdose.

Ron McKinnon, the MP for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, who drafted the private member’s bill, said he’s confident the law will have an impact, especially as the opioid crisis leads to more deaths.

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