Fraser Health has opened a new overdose prevention site in White Rock that will help support people in South Surrey and White Rock who use substances, and connect them with the health services they need.
Overdose prevention sites aim to prevent drug overdoses and overdose deaths, and reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences associated with substance use.
“Almost everyone in our province knows someone whose life has been touched by the poisoned drug crisis,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “This new overdose prevention site will save lives in South Surrey and White Rock and connect more people to the services and supports they need.”
Located at the White Rock/South Surrey Mental Health and Substance Use Centre in the Russell Annex at Peace Arch Hospital, the new overdose prevention site provides people with a safe and welcoming environment in which they can consume their own substances witnessed by trained staff who care about their safety and security.
The overdose prevention site is open from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, and from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Hours may be adjusted in response to demand and other considerations. There will be no witnessed consumption services at the site outside of these hours.
This overdose prevention site will serve anyone who wants to have their substance use witnessed, mitigating the risks to them of ingesting contaminated or toxic drugs. People under 19 years of age will receive extra support and additional assessment measures if they agree to receiving service.
The overdose prevention site in White Rock will provide people who use substances with overdose prevention education, Take Home Naloxone training and distribution, onsite monitoring of people who are at risk of overdose, and rapid detection of and response to overdose where necessary. It will also provide harm reduction supply distribution and disposal options, and facilitate referrals to health services, including appropriate mental health and substance use services.
Fraser Health has contracted Sources Community Services Society, a White Rock non-profit with a history of and reputation for providing quality social services that meet identified community needs, to operate the overdose prevention site.
“We will continue to advocate for ending the stigma around substance use to ensure people feel comfortable seeking the help they need, including through our overdose prevention sites,” says Dr. Victoria Lee, President and CEO of Fraser Health.
“Overdose touches everyone but the impacts are personal to those who are confronting substance use every day and to families, friends and loved ones who are left behind. The pandemic has exacerbated the opioid overdose crisis and we are seeing the highest-ever recorded number of deaths in our region. This overdose prevention site is an example of how we are enhancing our services.”
To date, there have been no overdose deaths at overdose prevention or supervised consumption sites in British Columbia. The new publicly accessible overdose prevention site is a first in White Rock and the sixth in Fraser Health, joining two sites in Abbotsford, two in Surrey and another in New Westminster.
“Sources Community Resources is honoured to partner with Fraser Health to bring this needed resource as one part of a larger strategy to reduce substance related harms in White Rock and South Surrey. This overdose prevention site is a place where our trained staff can form meaningful connections with people impacted by the increasingly toxic drug supply, and support pathways out of isolation,” says George Passmore, Director of Personal & Family Counselling and Support, Sources Community Services Society.
“We are grateful to help protect people and the community from the devastating harms of this public health emergency, and support people in navigating our social and health care services in a way that works best for them. We are excited to be introducing this service simultaneous to the Tides of Change Community Action Team’s Peer Support Network and community outreach team to truly meet people where they are at.”
Substance use, and the risk of overdose, affects people from diverse backgrounds. While overdose risk may be more visible across people who do not have stable housing, the majority of overdose deaths are occurring in private residences.
Overdose prevention sites have been instrumental in preventing death and harm associated with overdose, while increasing connections to health care resources and access to substance use services including treatment, decreasing injection-related litter and reducing Hepatitis C and HIV transmission. They are also associated with no increase in drug use or drug-related crime. Overdose prevention services also increase opportunities for people who use drugs to contribute to the well being of the community. The evidence suggests that the sites decrease the number of discarded sharps and reduce the number of individuals using substances in public.
Overdose prevention sites have also shown to reduce demand on bylaw enforcement, fire and police response, and reduce demand on the health care system, including ambulance and emergency services.
For more information about overdose-related supports in Fraser Health, please visit fraserhealth.ca/overdose.
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