UPDATE – Fentanyl, Opioids and COVID-19 – Dealing With Toxic Drug Supply

Judy Darcy, BC Minister for Mental Health & Addictions

Fraser Valley – There have been a number of front line care givers that have expressed concern about what the CVOID-19 pandemic will do to the homeless and the addicted.

Workers at homeless shelters are doing the best they can to keep an eye on the clientele that walk through the doors every day.

The homeless are not the only one’s that are vulnerable to addiction. Many street people who live off the grid, let alone those addicted who want to conceal their situation are at high rick.

There is great concern that as we have had another Welfare Wednesday come and go, plus the closed ports and border, that supplies of illegal opioids such as Fentanyl , will quickly disappear.

This affects everyone from the closet addict to sex trade workers and the homeless.

In these cases, social distancing is nil as the sharing of needles and paraphernalia is rampant.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says the federal government has given the green light for a safe supply of drugs for Downtown Eastside residents in light of the COVID-19 crisis. 

FVN/chillTV reached out to the office of Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions:

These are unprecedented challenges. We are dealing with one public health emergency on top of another, putting people with substance use issues at even greater risk.  

Our government is working urgently with the federal government, local health authorities, the BC Centre on Substance Use and front-line providers to get solutions in place to help keep people with substance use challenges safe. For example, the federal government has already made changes to make medication-assisted treatment more available for people to support them following self-isolation and physical distancing requirements.

I want to thank everyone who is working tirelessly to find new ways to keep people safe and save lives in these new, even more challenging circumstances. The only way to get through this is together.

The Province has announced new clinical guidance, effective immediately, for health-care providers to stem the spread of COVID-19 and respond to the ongoing overdose emergency.

People who use substances and who have an existing general practitioner or nurse practitioner are encouraged to work with them to access these new supports. Others can contact a rapid access addiction clinic, some of which are equipped to provide telehealth support, consultation for prescribers and patient assessment.

While isolating, patients are encouraged to use harm-reduction best practices to prevent overdoses, including practicing safer drug use, buddying up while maintaining a two-metre separation and carrying a naloxone kit.

The guidance was developed by the BC Centre on Substance Use with a provincial working group of addiction medicine clinicians and people with lived and living experience, and was reviewed by Ministry of Health, Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, Office of the Provincial Health Officer and First Nations Health Authority. It has also been reviewed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC, College of Pharmacists of BC and BC College of Nursing Professionals.

To read the guidance, visit: www.bccsu.ca/covid-19

For non-medical information relating to COVID-19:
Call 1 888 COVID-19 (1 888 268-4319)
Service is available 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific time

FYI:

  • Earlier this month, Health Canada issued an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which allows pharmacists to prescribe, sell or provide controlled substances in limited circumstances, or transfer prescriptions for controlled substances. These changes were implemented immediately across the province.

For more resources: https://www.bccsu.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-Bulletin-March-17-2020.pdf

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