The number of fatal drug overdoses in B.C. has now surpassed the provincial number of car crash related deaths and it continues to rise, said Dr. Trevor Corneil Tuesday, in a presentation about the drug crisis to the Interior Health Board
“We’re expecting somewhere between 75 and 100 overdose deaths this month,” said Corneil. “Things are not changing since we called the state of emergency.”
There are a variety of ways to address the problem, the highest profile of which being the supervised injection sites, which Interior Health announced last month.
The consultation process for those options will continue until Dec. 15, said Corneil, stressing that no decision has been made yet.
The current issue is trying to get the community to understand that it’s not a service that will just be a place to shoot-up — the method of drug ingestion most highly linked to fentanyl death.
“Then once they’ve injected, we watch them for half an hour,” he said. “There’s a peak, a high for 10 minutes and then people settle down, go into blissful period for thirty to 40 minutes and then you see them go into a normal state and they’ve rebalanced their opioid receptors.”
That’s when they leave for awhile, although they’re likely to return in a few hours.
“These are people who are really tied into this black market and can’t get out,” said Corneil. “It’s not really about the high for them. It’s about avoiding that two to three hours of horrible withdrawal… the thrill of the high is gone years before they get to this point. “
Studies also show that when people use safe injection services, they’re more likely to find a way to rehabilitation although there’s a shortage of detox and treatment beds.
Clients of HOPE Outreach told the Capital News last week, that they’ve heard the wait time for a detox bed is somewhere in the area of six to 12 weeks.
“The wait times vary according to the community and according to how many people want to to get in,” he said. “We are trying to increase access to those people who are most at risk —those we see through an emergency room, repeatedly.”
In those cases, they are fast tracking access to detox and rehab. For the rest, it’s unclear.
“There’s no doubt even through we are increasing our substance abuse beds, it’s still not enough,” he said.