As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)

Services offered to combat Vernon’s opioid crisis

Part three: The opioid crisis and the B.C. Interior

Since declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency in 2016, significant strides have been put in place throughout B.C. to combat the issue.

While programs like Turning Points Collaborative (previously John Howard Society) have long operated in Vernon, Interior Health has also introduced a continuum of substance use services over the past three years in an attempt to combat the troubling number of overdose deaths in the Okanagan.

This continuum is categorized under three different subsections: prevention, harm reduction and treatment/recovery.

“We have been working over the past three years to implement new services based on what research says is the best practice and what the community needs in addition to what is currently offered,” said Colleen McEwan, health service administrator of mental health and substance use services at Interior Health.

PART ONE: The opioid crisis and the B.C. Interior

PART TWO: Overdoses overwhelming in B.C. Interior

The first of these sections is prevention. Interior Health has begun working proactively by hiring an overdose prevention knowledge coordinator to educate residents on the topic and teach people how to properly use naloxone kits, an overdose reversal medication. A program, titled Preventure, is also now being delivered to all Grade 8 students in District 22 to identify those who may be more likely to use substances in the future in an effort to intervene early.

The second aspect of the continuum is harm reduction and includes targeted outreach measures and overdose prevention sites — a site is expected to open in Vernon later this year.

“Our outreach workers are working on the street-level to connect with people who may be contemplating recovery,” said Megan Desimone, manager of mental health and substance use services in Vernon. “We’re really just trying to make those initial connections and reduce some of the harms around what people are using and hopefully work to move these people along the continuum and into treatment.”

The final sector of the three-layered continuum is treatment and recovery.

“This is probably the sector with the biggest part right now, especially in terms of dollars,” Desimone said.

This includes long and short-term counseling, outreach and support workers, intensive day treatment programs, supported recovery beds like those at Bill’s Place or Round Lake Treatment Centre, and Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT), which includes treatments like suboxone and methadone which are offered through a clinic in downtown Vernon.

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, the rapid expansion of harm reduction services has prevented more than 3,000 possible deaths during a 20-month period between 2016 and 2017. A study, released June 5, estimates that without access or harm reduction responses and strategies, the number of deaths in B.C. would be 2.5 times higher.

Related: Top videos for 2018: The opioid crisis

Related: Overdose training challenge picks up in Vernon

To report a typo, email:
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com
.



Follow me on Twitter @BrieChar
Email me brieanna.charlebois@vernonmorningstar.com
Like us on Facebook.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Okanagan Realtors donate big to North Westside fire department

Two Kelowna-area Realtors made a generous donation to the North Westside Fire… Continue reading

Water quality advisory rescinded for Vernon users

Emergency repairs on a water main resulted in water quality advisory

SilverStar security recovers stolen bike

Reminders to residents to keep bicycles locked up, eyes open for suspicious activity

Orphaned Okanagan beavers admitted to rehab centre

The two beavers are in the care of the Fawcett Family Wildlife Health Centre

Interior Health will not expand Police and Crisis Team

Southeast Division Chief Superintendent Brad Haugli asked IH to expand the program

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

‘Justice for Mona’ protests planned in Kelowna, Lower Mainland

Security camera footage shows Mona Wang being dragged, stepped on during RCMP wellness check

Intent of killing at centre of Surrey man’s Okanagan murder trial

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Allison Beames is anticipated to return with her decision in August

Kelowna neighbourhood pond dries up again

The RDCO filled up the pond on Hall Road but it’s drying up again

Penticton RCMP seek help locating missing woman

25-year-old Iesha Blomquist was reported missing to Penticton RCMP on June 30

Car smashes into Kelowna dollar store

The vehicle went through the front window of the store just off Highway 97 North

Majority of residents in support of alcohol in outdoor spaces: City of Penticton

City council will vote on whether to continue allowing public consumption, on Tuesday, July 7

Princeton RCMP arrest suspects in violent Salmon Arm home invasion

Two men who allegedly staged a violent home invasion in Salmon Arm… Continue reading

Most Read