Fentanyl pills. (submitted)

Fentanyl test strips coming to overdose prevention sites

Take precautions when using drugs and look out for one another during the holiday season.

Fentanyl test strips are now available at Island Health’s supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites, allowing people to test drugs before they are consumed.

Sites in Victoria, the city with the third-highest number of overdose deaths in B.C. this year, are the first locations on Vancouver Island to receive the strips.

Overdose prevention sites in Duncan, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Courtenay and Campbell River will have strips by the end of December. The strips are free to people checking drugs while at an overdose prevention or supervised consumption site.

“It isn’t a perfect method for detecting contaminants and a risk still exists regardless of the results, which is why we are making them available at supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites,” said Dr. Murray Fyfe, Medical Health Officer, Island Health. “We hope that drug checking will become part of a routine for people using drugs at these sites to do so more safely — combining drug checking with proven existing harm reduction practices should help save lives.”

Recommended harm reduction practices include using with a friend who is not also using at the same time, starting with a lower dose, and having a naloxone kit handy.

In addition to supervised consumption and overdose prevention services, other Island Health supports for people who use illicit drugs include opioid agonist treatments such as methadone and Suboxone along with peer support, mental health services and sobering, stabilizing, treatment and recovery beds.

Although the holidays are often a time of joy, it can also be difficult and lonely. Island Health would like to remind people to take precautions when using drugs and look out for one another during the holiday season. During the winter holidays in 2016, there was a marked increase in overdose deaths in B.C., a sign of the impending opioid crisis. Since that time, overdose rates have continued to increase at an alarming rate. Between January and October, 1,208 people died of drug overdoses in B.C. in 2017, 198 from our Island communities.

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

Just Posted

Decision on judicial review of Cowichan Motorsport decision could take months

VIMC said it was assured by North Cowichan that expansion would be allowed

South Cowichan Lawn Tennis Club goes retro

Wood Racket Tournament features period uniforms

Tiny homes could help housing issues in North Cowichan, says housing official

John Horn says homeless need shelter with winter coming

Editorial: Tiny houses should be an option in Cowichan

We are missing the boat by not enabling the building of tiny houses.

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

‘Not criminally responsible’ hearing slated for man convicted of Abbotsford school stabbing

Gabriel Klein was found guilty in March of killing Letisha Reimer, 13, in 2016

B.C.’s 1st mental health and addictions minister won’t be seeking re-election

MLA Judy Darcy is the fifth cabinet minister not intending to run in the next election

Vancouver’s shuttered aquarium searching for financial solution amid pandemic

The aquarium needs about $1 million a month to cover its costs

B.C., Alberta sending nearly 300 fire personnel by Friday to help battle wildfires in Oregon

Some 230 firefighters, most from British Columbia but including a number from Alberta, will be deployed Friday

Most Read