Statement from Dr. Evan Wood and Marshall Smith regarding September 30th, 2016 Overdose statistics

published on October 20, 2016

Evan Wood, Interim Director for the BC Centre on Substance Use and Marshall Smith, Chairperson, British Columbia Recovery Council, released the following statement in response to the most recent coroner’s report on overdose deaths:

“The ongoing high rates of fatal overdose in British Columbia demonstrate the need for continued collaboration, focus and energy. In the face of the public health emergency, we enthusiastically support the provincial government’s efforts to date and encourage all stakeholders to continue to urgently respond to the severity of the current overdose epidemic.”

“We welcome recent efforts, including Dr. Perry Kendall’s declaration in April of a public health emergency, and the Premier’s creation of the Joint Task Force on Overdose Response aimed at implementing various overdose prevention and response strategies, which create the opportunity to develop a more effective system for British Columbians.”

“There are hundreds of thousands of British Columbians living in short and long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Thousands more get well every year, proving that recovery is both possible and sustainable. Those living in long-term recovery show us that this serious health problem can be overcome and that there are effective solutions to the problem of drug and alcohol addiction.”

“However, many individuals and families struggling with addiction continue to face enormous barriers to effective care. To address this challenge, the province has taken several immediate steps, including improved sharing of data among health authorities, emergency room staff, first responders and the BC Coroners Service; providing naloxone kits free of charge to high risk populations; and making it easier, through changes to B.C.’s public drug plan, for people to get medications proven to reduce rates of overdose. The Task Force is also exploring how to improve monitoring of prescribing practices through PharmaNet and expanding the authority of the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons to take action when appropriate.”

“The province, through the newly-formed Joint Task Force has also identified much needed longer term solutions like their commitment to create 500 additional addiction treatment and recovery beds.”

“The Premier’s recent announcement of plans to create a first of its kind in Canada centre to help guide the provincial response, the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, is an important step toward fostering excellence in addiction prevention, treatment and recovery. This effort will include strategies to improve training of health care providers and the development of standards and best practices in addiction prevention and care.”

“A key goal of this new approach will be to listen to and learn from the voices of people in long term recovery, study their success and build a community health response based on the evidence of what has worked.”

“The overdose crisis has unmasked the reality that the problem of untreated addiction that exists in families and communities across the province has been neglected for too long. However, instead of ignoring this problem or turning the other way, the Province has taken urgent and pragmatic steps aimed at comprehensively tackling this challenge with a view towards immediate steps and longer term solutions. We welcome this approach.”