B.C. expansion to safe supply a start but ‘still too little too late’

published on August 23, 2021 by Maddi Dellplain in Healthy Debate

Eris Nyx has been on British Columbia’s safe supply since the B.C. Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) rolled out guidelines for prescribers in the spring of 2020.

The guidelines that have become informally known as the first iteration of B.C.’s “safe supply” were – at least in name – what many drug policy reform advocates like Nyx had been demanding for decades. But the availability of prescription alternatives to illicit street drugs has been riddled with issues that Nyx says signal how out of touch policies are with the reality faced by people who use drugs. “I’m on the safe supply (program), I still use illicit street drugs,” Nyx says. “It’s not really safe supply.”

Those wishing to access safe supply in B.C. – defined as “a legal and regulated supply of drugs with mind/body altering properties that traditionally have been accessible only through the illicit drug market” – over this past year have been met with a number of obstacles: no existing connections within the medical system; doctors refusing to prescribe safe supply; or access limited to alternatives that fail to meet their needs…

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