Substance Use News: April

BC’s Public Health Crisis at One Year: The Overdose Epidemic

The provincial government has released a report following up on Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall’s announcement of a public health crisis on April 14, 2016. BC’s Opioid Overdose Response: One-Year Update (April 13, 2017)  summarizes efforts in seven key areas:

  • Immediate response to an overdose by expanding naloxone availability and the reach of supervised consumption services
  • Preventing overdoses before they happen by improving treatment options and care
  • Public education and awareness about overdose prevention and response
  • Monitoring, surveillance and applied research
  • Improving the scheduling of substances and equipment under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Precursor Control Regulations
  • Improving federal enforcement and interdiction strategies by working with the Canada Border Services Agency
  • Enhancing the capacity of police to support harm reduction efforts related to street drugs by providing training to police and other first responders

Also released: BC Coroner’s Illicit Drug Overdose Deaths in BC January 1, 2007 – March 31, 2017


The British Columbia Centre on Substance Use

The British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) website became fully functional on April 1, but the work of the Centre was launched last fall. The BCCSU focuses on three core areas: research and evaluation, education and training, and clinical care guidance. Their vision is to “Transform substance use policy and care in BC through the integration of evidence-based education, research, and care.” The BCCSU is an offshoot of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BCCfE), which has long researched HIV treatment and social determinants that affect health outcomes. The BCCSU will offer public education (Dr. Mark Lysyshyn’s May 31 lecture on BC’s overdose emergency is already full). Keep your eye on their events page for more.


Ontario Drug Policy Research Network Release Report 

Ontario Drug Policy Research Network has released a report on Ontario’s opioid related deaths from 1991-2015. There has been a 285% increase over this time. The ODPRN notes: 

Current data are needed to understand the impact of the introduction of new opioid prescribing policies, the reported rise in illicit fentanyl availability, as well as changes to formulation and availability of prescription opioids.


The Danger of Over the Counter Drugs to Ease Withdrawal Symptoms

Earlier this month The Atlantic featured an article on the use of over the counter (OTC) medication to ease withdrawal symptoms. Addicts Who Can’t Get Opioids Are Overdosing on a Diarrhea Drug explains that anti-diarrhea treatment Immodium contains loperamide. According to author Sarah Zhang, when used as suggested, loperamide doesn’t reach the brain, but at very high doses, it can. High doses can induce similar effects to opioids- depressed breathing and possibly death. It can also cause irregularities in heart rhythm. Zhang cites a US FDA Safety Alert from 2016 noting the potentials for harm in overuse of Immodium.


tions? Feedback? Get in touch!
Janet Madsen, Capacity Building and Knowledge Translation Coordinator,
[email protected]