Naloxone Is Not Enough: Letters From The Heart Of The Crisis
We remember the lives that have been tragically lost from a toxic drug supply. Overdose deaths are preventable and unacceptable.
Naloxone alone is not enough.
BC’s take-home naloxone program was launched in 2012 following an increase in overdoses, and dramatically expanded in 2015 in response to an unpredented increase in opiod overdoses. The requirement for a prescription was removed in 2016, and kits and training were provided across the province to individuals who were at risk of experiencing or witnessing an overdose.
In May 2021, the program reached a total of one million kits shipped to distribution sites. The availability of naloxone as an emergency response intervention has been critical in saving lives. Modeling estimates that from January 2015 to March 2021 more than 3,000 deaths events were averted due to take-home naloxone. But this milestone is overshadowed by the high rate of fatal overdose that has persisted in British Columbia for more than five years, despite the heroic efforts of so many. We continue to lose people from a toxic and unregulated drug supply, and the rate of overdose deaths in B.C. continues to hover at more than five a day.
Overdose deaths are preventable and unacceptable. Naloxone is not enough. Community members and partners have been paramount in providing training and getting naloxone into the hands of those who need it. People with lived and living experience of substance use (PWLLE) and people who use drugs (PWUD) continue to carry the burden of being the first responders to overdoses, saving the lives of friends, family, and community members — which comes with overwhelming experiences of loss, burnout, and frustration. Some of these people with lived experience are members of the PEEP Consultation and Advisory Board and Peer2Peer teams with the BC Centre for Disease Control and are based across the province.
These are their letters to the people of British Columbia.