B.C. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy speaks to reporters at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 24, 2020. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

B.C.’s overdose death rate is declining in large part because of more effective intervention, including prescription medications to get people off a “poisoned, unregulated drug supply,” Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy says.

The 2019 total of 981 deaths from mostly opioid street drugs is down significantly from 1,542 deaths the previous year, due to more overdose reversing kits and a significant increase in prescribed substitutes for the deadly fentanyl and other street opioids, Darcy told reporters at the B.C. legislature Monday.

Pilot projects to help people get off the streets in Abbotsford and Vernon are also showing results, she said.

“These are pilot projects that involve police working in partnership with a team of peers, people who have used drugs in the past or are still living with addiction but are may be on safe prescription medication,” Darcy said. “And they are connecting people directly to the social supports they need, like housing, as well as treatment and recovery. We have remarkable success so far in Abbotsford. We want to learn from that pilot project and look at how we can expand that across the province.”

RELATED: Too soon for drug decriminalization, federal minister says

RELATED: ‘They were loved’: Illicit drug overdoses kill 981 in 2019

While the federal government keeps street drugs illegal under the Controlled Substances Act, Darcy said prescription alternatives have expanded to 3,500 people since the B.C. NDP government took office in 2017. That includes three types of methadone, the traditional heroin substitute, as well as suboxone and hydromorphone, a prescription opioid marketed as Dilaudid among other brands.

A further expansion of B.C.’s injectable opioid drugs program is expected shortly, with the federal government taking part, Darcy said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureopioid crisis

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

Just Posted

Rugby practices to return to Lower Mainland fields this fall

B.C. Rugby announced its return to play plan July 7

Filming applications ‘coming in slowly’ to the City of Surrey

Netflix cancels ‘Sabrina’, but filming manager says new calls coming in to film in Cloverdale

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m.

PHOTOS: Surrey rally supports Mona Wang, calls for wellness check reform

Security camera footage shows Wang being dragged, stepped on during RCMP wellness check at UBCO

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

JULY 11: B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Man shot dead in east Abbotsford suburbs

Integrated Homicide Investigative Team called to investigate

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

Most Read