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Northern Health opens overdose prevention site

Northern Health is opening an overdose prevention site at the HIV/AIDS Prevention Program (needle exchange) in Prince George

Hours of service at the HIV/AIDS Prevention Program (needle exchange) will be extended and it will be open seven days a week. The site will provide a place where people can be safely monitored and treated immediately if they overdose. Staff at the Prince George Needle Exchange are equipped with naloxone and have received the appropriate training for overdose response.

“Overdose levels remain high in our region, and immediate action can save lives,” said Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Sandra Allison, in a press release. “We’re expanding the hours we’ll be open with staff present to support people who are looking for a safe place to keep warm, and also for staff to be able to respond quickly if an overdose occurs.”

Public Health officials’ advice to reduce the risk of overdose and death from overdose:

  • Don’t use alone; have a naloxone kit handy and ensure the people with you know how to use it
  • Start with a small amount
  • Mixing substances, including alcohol, increases risk of overdose
  • Use where help is easily available (e.g., around other people)
  • Use less. If you took a break, were in detox/treatment or jail, or are new to use, your tolerance is lower
  • If you have ever experienced an overdose, be aware that you are more likely to overdose again
  • Make a plan/know how to respond in case of an overdose

NH is currently distributing and providing training on the use of take-home Naloxone kits for vulnerable populations and their close contacts. More information on where to find a Naloxone kit is available at www.towardtheheart.com

The Prince George overdose prevention site and the sites in Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria, are the provincial government’s latest steps in response to the opioid overdose crisis. In November, the province also provided $5 million to BC Emergency Health Services to support paramedics and dispatchers, as that month saw the highest number of overdose-related 911 calls ever recorded.

In July, Premier Christy Clark appointed a Joint Task Force on Overdose Response to provide expert leadership and advice to the Province on additional actions to prevent and respond to overdoses in B.C. As part of the response, law enforcement is working at all levels of government to interdict the supply of toxic drugs, and health officials are working to address the immediate and longer-term health needs. To that end, B.C. is expanding access to life-saving naloxone, supervised consumption services, and opioid addiction treatment medications and services, as well as improving the effectiveness of addiction treatment and access to appropriate substance use supports.

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