More than a quarter million visits to Island Health overdose prevention and supervised consumption sites

Island Health is observing more than 250,000 visits to supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites – more than 1,000 reversed overdoses and zero deaths while at the same time delivering more supports and services to people who are using drugs and for people who are ready to begin a recovery journey.

Since December 2016, Island Health has opened nine overdose prevention and supervised consumption services in locations where people can reduce their risk of overdose by using drugs under the supervision of trained staff. But observed consumption is just one component of the health and wellness services available. Staff at the sites offer harm reduction supplies, peer support, public health nursing, mental health and substance use supports and linkages and referrals to treatment. Staff are equipped with a variety of tools and tactics to reverse overdoses including naloxone.

“Overdose prevention and supervised consumption services are a critical part of our response to the overdose crisis,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “These services not only save lives but also connect people to treatment and recovery options and other supports to help them make safer choices and find a pathway to healing and a pathway to hope.”

Island Health has opened nine overdose prevention and supervised consumption sites in communities across the region, including Campbell River, Courtenay, Duncan, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, and Victoria. An average of 3,250 visits are made every week to these sites.

“Observed consumption services are more than just overdose prevention – these are the beginnings of a supportive community,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer. “And the staff and peers working at these locations play a vital role in addressing stigma and supporting people who are the most vulnerable.”

Observed consumption services support the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions’ efforts to address the opioid public health emergency and improve the access and quality of mental health and addictions services in B.C. These services are also a key part of Island Health’s response to the overdose emergency, which includes participation in the BC Take Home Naloxone program; increased number of substance use beds; expanded capacity and support for community-based health-care providers who prescribe anti-craving medication such as Suboxone; providing same-day access to treatment; greater access to substance use supports; and expanded programs to better support people living with addiction, including increased follow-up efforts.

Opioid crisis and response by the numbers:

  • 1,510 people died of drug overdoses in B.C. in 2018 (237 on the Island)
  • In 2019, there were 90 deaths in B.C., 17 on the Island
    • 83% of the people who died from drug overdoses were men
    • 88% of deaths occur indoors 
    • 76% of those who died were aged 30 to 59
  • 0 deaths at supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites
  • 1,387 Take Home Naloxone Kits Distributed in October 2018
  • 223 active prescribers of Opioid Agonist Therapy by end of December 2018

Island Health provides health care and support services to more than 767,000 people on Vancouver Island, the islands in the Salish Sea and the Johnstone Strait, and mainland communities north of Powell River.

With more than 20,000 staff and over 2,000 medical staff, 6,000 volunteers, and the dedicated support of foundations and auxiliaries, Island Health delivers a broad range of health services, including: public health services, primary health care, home and community care, mental health and addictions services, acute care in hospitals, and much more across a huge, geographically diverse region.

Media inquiries
Jen Parisi
250-519-5300 x12650
jennifer.parisi@viha.ca