Some of the harm reduction supplies, that OPS providers distribute consists of naloxone kits and pipes. (Photo/AVI health and community services)

Overdose prevention services not meeting needs of inhalant drug users: Campbell River advocate

Campbell River’s low OPS utilization numbers will continue unless inhalation services are provided said outgoing OPS provider

Limited services for people who use drugs by smoking them in Campbell River is a serious challenge that needs to be addressed immediately, according to the community’s outgoing provider of overdose prevention services (OPS).

“This is a serious concern, especially after COVID-19 interrupted the street supply stream of injectable drugs like heroin in Campbell River,” said Sarah Delaney-Spindler, manager for AIDS Vancouver Island’s (AVI) Campbell River office.

AIDS Vancouver Island’s contract with Island Health to provide overdose prevention services (OPS) runs out on June 1. The new contract has been awarded to Vancouver Island Mental Health Society.

The medical health officer from Island health, Dr Charmaine Enns told the Campbell River Mirror that they were concerned about the “low utilization of OPS” in Campbell River and that they wanted to expand the services to more substance users in Campbell River.

Dr. Enns also said that the OPS utilization number in Campbell River was one of the lowest on Vancouver Island.

READ MORE: Island Health announces new overdose prevention service provider in Campbell River

Responding to Dr. Enns’ concerns of ‘low utilization’ numbers in Campbell River, Delaney- Spindler said that unless the overdose prevention services are expanded to include the growing tide of inhalant users in Campbell River, it’s going to be difficult to increase the percentage of OPS utilization in Campbell River.

She said that people are moving to more readily available substances like methamphetamine and crack which are consumed via inhalation – smoking.

On May 11, Island Health issued a drug-overdose advisory for all of Vancouver Island after a spike in overdose deaths “from opioids and stimulants with an increased risk of smoking.”

READ MORE: Overdose advisory issued for all of Vancouver Island

Although the harm reduction services operated by AVI provide clean supplies to users who inhale these drugs, there is no way to support them in safe consumption. This option is currently available only for injectable drug users in the Campbell River OPS centre, where an overdose prevention room is available for safe usage and monitoring.

Inhalation services consist of a safe space or room with industrial venting or an outside tent where people can smoke substances and service providers can monitor them to avoid instances of overdose.

There is a strong number of inhalant users that are not catered to says Delaney-Spindler based on the data of harm reduction supplies that they distribute.

“The amount of pipes used for smoking crack and methamphetamine that we distribute are quite high,” said Delaney-Spindler.

Delaney-Spindler has said that many of the harm reduction clients that she has interacted with, and who are solely inhalant drug users, have voiced the disparity they feel when they see people who inject are better supported than them.

OPS providers across Vancouver Island who provide both inhalation and injection services see higher number of OPS utilization, said Delaney-Spindler.

Since AVI started out as the OPS provider in Campbell River in 2017, Delaney-Spindler has said that she has seen an increase in the number of overdose cases linked to inhalant drugs.

She also said that AVI had repeatedly communicated these concerns to Island Health, and they also requested funding to set up inhalation services at the OPS centre in Campbell River.

When asked about the lack of inhalant services in Campbell River, Island health spokesperson Dominic Abassi replied in an email statement, “Island Health contracts for overdose prevention services. Where a contracted service provider is able to offer witnessed inhalation based on local needs and demand, capacity and suitability of the site, and ability to mitigate impact for neighbours, we support them in doing so.”

Campbell Riveroverdose

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

Just Posted

Rebound recovery program helps more than 50 PQB businesses remain open

Nearly $90K in aid received through Oceanside Initiatives plan

Parksville family receives anonymous letters complaining children are being too loud

Letter said the noise of kids playing in the backyard is ‘unbearable’

PQBeat Podcast: Beloved Parksville volunteer Joan LeMoine

Discussion includes childhood memories, receiving the key to the city and more

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Woman arrested near Nanaimo beach after alleged road rage incidents

37-year-old woman facing charges including assault, assaulting a police officer, impaired driving

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

Leave your deets when dining: Restaurants taking personal info to trace COVID-19

Health officials say indoor dining presents a higher risk

Most Read