More than 100,000 visits to Island Health overdose prevention sites

VICTORIA – Since opening in December 2016, Island Health’s overdose prevention and supervised consumption services (OPS/SCS) have supported people in the communities they serve – with more than 100,000 visits, 820 overdose reversals and zero deaths.

“The supports provided at overdose prevention and supervised consumption sites are crucial – not only do they save lives, but they offer people an opportunity to connect to treatment and supports,” said Judy Darcy, B.C.’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “These sites are one more important way we are working to ensure that people living with addiction have access to supports that save lives.”

The number of visits to OPS/SCS sites have increased steadily in the communities they serve, and demonstrate a need for these services. Island Health has opened nine sites in communities across the region, including Campbell River, Courtenay, Duncan, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, and Victoria.

“Overdose prevention services are saving lives,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer. “These sites are one of many tools we’re using to tackle the opioid crisis, and it is clear that without these services, more people would have lost their lives.”

Overdose prevention and supervised consumption services are locations where people can use drugs under supervision by trained staff. They offer a suite of health services, including referrals to mental health counselling and provide opportunities to build relationships and connect people with other services and supports, including treatment. Staff are equipped with naloxone and are appropriately trained for overdose response. There have been zero deaths at OPS/SCS sites.

This project supports the work of the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions to combat the overdose crisis and save lives. MMHA is working with partners across government and across all sectors on a wide range of actions – spearheaded by the new provincial Overdose Emergency Response Centre, Regional Response Teams and Community Action Teams in communities hardest-hit by the overdose crisis. These multi-sectoral teams are working together to intervene quickly to save lives and to put services in place to better support people on a path to treatment and recovery. These teams are critical to giving people at risk of overdose immediate access to life-saving measures like naloxone, overdose prevention and supervised consumption services, opioid substitution therapies and health and social services like housing.

Opioid crisis by the numbers: 
• 1,436 people died of drug overdoses in B.C. in 2017 (232 on the Island)
• 82% of the people who died from drug overdoses were men 
• 88% of drug overdoses occurred indoors
• 0 deaths at supervised consumption or overdose prevention sites

Opening dates:
• Campbell River, 1371-c Cedar Street - May 2017
• Courtenay, 355 6th Street - March 2017
• Nanaimo, 437 Wesley Street - January 2017
• Port Alberni, 3699 3rd Avenue - May 2017
• Duncan, 715 Canada Avenue - September 2017
• Victoria, 713 Johnson Street AVI/Access Health Centre - January 2017
• Victoria, 844 Johnson Street Johnson Street Community - December 2016
• Victoria, 535 Ellice Street Rock Bay Landing - February 2017
• Victoria, 919 Pandora Avenue Our Place - December 2016

Island Health, one of seven health jurisdictions in British Columbia, provides health care and support services to more than 765,000 people on Vancouver Island, the islands in the Salish Sea and the Johnstone Strait, and mainland communities north of Powell River.

Media contact:

Meribeth Burton