B.C. harm-reduction sites, doctors struggling with new type of overdose

published on July 9, 2019 by Zak Vescera in Vancouver Sun

Doctors and frontline health-care workers say they are responding to an increasing number of overdoses involving opioids contaminated with benzodiazepines, restricted substances normally used to treat anxiety.

Benzodiazepines don’t respond to emergency treatments such as naloxone, or Narcan, which usually temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Instead, drug users are left groggy, disoriented and suffering from memory loss. That means users may remain unconscious even after naloxone is administered, according to Overdose Prevention Society director Sarah Blyth.

“It’s way more challenging for all frontline workers because a person will overdose, you’ll give them Narcan, which normally brings them back into consciousness and fully awake and alert … but this means you give them Narcan and they still need to be monitored for most of the day,” said Blyth…

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