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05 Sep 2017

Vancouver consumption site to allow nasal and oral drug use to prevent overdoses

Health Canada has granted an exemption to the Powell Street Getaway supervised consumption site to allow drugs to be taken in several ways.

By: Matt Kieltyka

 

A Vancouver supervised consumption site is now able to monitor people who ingest or snort drugs to prevent overdose deaths.

Like many facilities of its kind, the Powell Street Getaway – which opened July 28 – could only provide supervision to people who inject drugs.

But Vancouver Coastal Health announced Friday that Health Canada has granted the site an exemption to allow for nasal and oral consumption of drugs as well.

“We know people dying of overdoses are not just injecting, and we are pleased that Health Canada has acknowledged the value of keeping people who ingest drugs in other ways safe too,” said B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy in a statement.

“Oral and intranasal drug consumption carry a risk of overdose, but they are less risky than injection,” said Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer at VCH. ”It makes no sense to turn away people who choose to consume drugs in a safer manner, but who still require supervision.”

Vancouver Coastal Health says this is only the second oral and nasal use exemption in Canada (the first was given to Fraser Health for its two new supervised consumption sites in Surrey).

The exemption further expands harm reduction efforts in the midst of the province’s overdose crisis.

As of June, 780 people have died of drug overdoses in British Columbia this year, up from 414 over the same period in 2016.

There have been 232 overdose deaths recorded in Vancouver alone, which already exceeds the total 231 deaths in all of 2016.

““The rising number of overdose deaths this year is horrible and absolutely heartbreaking,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson in late August.

The city is calling on the provincial and federal governments to create a regulatory framework for all illicit substances and explore decriminalization.

Vancouver also wants expanded addictions treatment as well as an increase in overdose prevention sites and drug checking technology.

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