Two-thirds of B.C. overdose victims spent time in prison, report finds

published on April 5, 2018 by Andrea Woo in The Globe and Mail

Two-thirds of British Columbians who died of drug overdoses in recent years were at some point in their lives in custody or under community supervision, highlighting the need to improve access to treatment behind bars and connect inmates with health care upon release.

Keith Ahamad, an addictions physician who works in a city jail, said the report confirms what he and his colleagues have long known. He praised the recent efforts of the substance-use service, but noted they are long overdue.

“They’re working to create comprehensive plans for people, but they’re literally playing catch-up for decades of neglect in an area that we know people have been at risk,” Dr. Ahamad said.

The report also found that, of the 1,854 recent deaths reviewed, not one person had Suboxone in their system.

“This is consistent with the evidence demonstrating the safety of buprenorphine/naloxone and the role this medication in preventing overdose deaths,” the report stated. Methadone, meanwhile, was detected in 31 deaths.

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