‘Immense challenge’: Trying to save the lives of B.C. drug users, hit hard by COVID-19 and the overdose crisis

published on June 18, 2021 by Lori Culbert and Dan Fumano in Vancouver Sun

Christopher composes bluesy funk music in his notebook while waiting for treatment at an addictions clinic in St. Paul’s Hospital. He’s tired of chasing a fentanyl high and grateful for the second chance he’s being offered by the medical staff.

“I wouldn’t be alive without it,” Christopher, 40, said of the Rapid Access Addiction Centre, while sitting in its withdrawal management room. “It gives hope. It’s like a beacon of light in an otherwise dark world.”

At the clinic, which opened in 2016, substance users are offered replacement drugs and other social supports as a first step toward stabilization. It’s Christopher’s second visit to the centre, where he’s looking for Kadian — a brand of slow release oral morphine — to try to curb his body’s craving for fentanyl.

“People like me can still be contributing members of society if we can get better,” he said…

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