Fentanyl pills. Photo credit: Contributed

Solving the drug overdose tragedy

Interior Health chairman says problem is both medical and social

While Interior Health has adopted measures to combat the opioid overdose epidemic over the past year, still more needs to be done, says the chairman of Interior Health.

In Kelowna this year, there were 60 overdose fatalities as of August, but only three recorded in September. So far this year, the overdose fatality count is 17 in Vernon and 33 in Kamloops.

Dr. Doug Cochrane, appointed as IH board chair in September, says until the overdose fatality rate starts decreasing rather than increasing, more solutions need to be sought out.

“We’re not keeping people safe enough and that’s why the (overdose fatality) numbers keep increasing so how to change that is something we will continue to work on concurrently with what is being done elsewhere across the province and across country,” said Cochrane.

Cochrane, who was appointed as chair of the IH board by Health Minister Adrian Dix, said IH’s aggressive, multi-faceted approach has been consistent with B.C.’s public health officer declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency and how to address it.

Related: Overdose-fighting mobile units ready to roll

“What we need to do is keep people safe, work with them when they are ready for a change and support them when they are trying to address their drug dependency,” Cochrane said.

“Our challenge is how do we keep people safe who use substances where the source of those substances are unknown, which is where the fentanyl plays into it.

“I don’t know yet where the health care system will end up on this, but I know we can’t rely on what we’ve done in the past. There are still people dying and that is a tragedy.

“The other aspect of this is surviving the experience of overdosing for some people will cause them to open a door to other defined forms of treatment, which means providing access to more treatment beds and facilities. Community support will be the next step.”

Cochrane said drug use is often related to emotional or physical pain, which is as much a social issue as it is a medical one.

“People become desperate to do whatever they can to deal with pain and that affects a vast array of socio-economic groups. That pain can come in many different forms.

“Dealing with that pain I think is where the support for individuals lies. We as a health authority and as a society have a responsibility to act for and support them.”

Watch for more from senior regional reporter Barry Gerding’s exclusive interview with the new Interior Health board chairman Dr. Doug Cochrane on the Black Press web network and sister newspapers across the Okanagan-Shuswap region.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Search underway for missing Lumby man

John Keeley is believed to have been kayaking in Mabel Lake near Lumby.

Wildfire near Lake Country held at 7 hectares

A fire near Dee Lake is not expected to grow

Update: Growth anticipated for Okanagan Mountain Park wildfire

The wildfire across the lake from Peachland is burning at 200 hectares

Summerland issues State of Local Emergency

Two homes under evacuation order; evacuation alert remains in place as result of wildfire

BX wildfire a ‘fire of note’

Blaze now 1.2 hectares

Midsummer’s Eve of the Arts breaks fundraising record for Vernon Gallery

More than $62,000 raised for Vernon Public Art Gallery through annual event

Keeping pets safe during Okanagan wildfires

Kelowna Riding Club, Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital and Desert Park Osoyoos pitch in

Wildfire evacuation order forces bride to search for new wedding venue

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards is under an order due to the Mount Eneas wildfire south of Peachland

Okanagan boaters advised to watch for wildfire air tankers

Boaters on Okanagan and Skaha lakes are being advised to watch for air tankers

RV insurance costs $1,000 more in B.C. than in Alberta: taxpayers group

Canadian Taxpayers Federation is urging the provincial government to open up ICBC to competition

Recent online kitten abuse video raises serious social media questions

UBC and UFV profs weigh in on the subject of online sharing, shaming, and our digital landscape

Update: Placer Mountain wildfire, near Keremeos, triples in size

Two significant fires are burning in the Lower Similkameen, smoke can be seen as far away as Osoyoos

OKG deal Timber defeat

North Okanagan Soccer League roundup

Most Read