British Columbia invests in addictions program to tackle drug overdose crisis

published on September 29, 2016 by Andrea Woo in The Globe and Mail

A $5-million investment from the province will help formalize and expand the mandate of an addiction treatment research and training program led by one of B.C.’s top public health researchers.

Premier Christy Clark announced the new funding earlier this week as part of a total $10-million commitment to tackle the province’s overdose crisis. Half will go to establishing the B.C. Centre on Substance Use, which has operated on a smaller scale for about a year as the Network for Excellence in Substance Dependence and Related Harms.

Evan Wood – medical director for addiction services at Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care, co-director of the Urban Health Research Initiative and a UBC professor – spearheaded the network and will serve as BCCSU’s interim director.

“He has been a leader, a fighter and a visionary on behalf of people who need help,” Ms. Clark said of Dr. Wood in a speech to the Union of B.C. Municipalities on Wednesday.

The remaining $5-million will help fund existing initiatives, such as expanding supervised consumption services, fentanyl awareness forums and training police officers to administer naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. A joint task force of health and police officials struck in July is expected to identify other priority areas.

The BCCSU will comprise a new governance structure that includes representation from all health authorities, First Nations and people who use drugs.

One initiative already being developed by the BCCSU is a provincial guideline for the treatment of opioid addiction. This is expected to include details such as evidence-based approaches to detoxification, recovery services and the transition between methadone and suboxone.

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