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BC CDC – More than 1M Naloxone Kits Shipped in BC as Overdose Crisis Continues

More than one million kits containing the lifesaving medication naloxone, used to reverse opioid overdoses, have been shipped to registered sites throughout the province since the inception of the Take Home Naloxone program in 2012.

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“Far too many people continue to lose their lives to toxic, illicit drugs – it is tragic and unacceptable,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Naloxone is an important tool that saves thousands of lives, but we know it is only one of many tools that is needed. B.C. is working from every angle to create a system of care that supports everyone, including expanding access to safer supply, working toward decriminalization, and increasing treatment options. We know there is much more to do and we are making the necessary changes needed to turn this crisis around.”

While naloxone has helped avert many deaths, those working in the field and people with lived and/or living experience of substance use emphasize that overdoses are preventable and naloxone is not enough.

“Naloxone is a life saving tool for sure, but it is not enough,” said Jessica Van Norren, a program manager with Rain City Housing & Support Society who advises BCCDC as a person with lived or living experience of substance use through the Peer2Peer program. “Five years into the overdose crisis and we are still losing our friends, family and colleagues at unprecedented numbers. I have responded to hundreds of overdoses, and all but one has been reversed. In a time of a poisoning epidemic, and now benzos now being in our substances, naloxone is not enough.”

When fentanyl entered the drug supply and the public health emergency was declared in 2016, the Take Home Naloxone program ramped up. A policy change removed the requirement to have a prescription to get a kit and the program expanded to community sites and pharmacies, improving access to training and kits throughout the province. People with lived and/or living experience took on a critical role in distributing naloxone. They continue to be on the frontline as first responders saving the lives of friends, loved ones, and community members.

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