New Treat­ment to Com­bat BC Opi­oid Epi­demic

The Province - - ADVERTISMENT -

A new treat­ment has en­tered the market to help first re­spon­ders and civil­ians tackle the opi­oid cri­sis that Bri­tish Columbia is cur­rently fac­ing. Be­tween Jan­uary and June, there were 780 over­dose deaths in the province — mak­ing it one of the dead­li­est years since the cri­sis started.

To help com­bat the over­doses, first re­spon­ders and health care ser­vices typ­i­cally use a nee­dle to in­ject a drug called nalox­one into vic­tims. It keeps a user’s heart pump­ing and sus­tains them long enough to get them to a hospi­tal to re­ceive emer­gency care from a doc­tor. How­ever, a nee­dle-free nalox­one al­ter­na­tive, called Nar­can nasal spray, is also avail­able and used widely across Canada.

Un­like the nee­dle ver­sion, the nasal spray re­quires no train­ing and no assem­bly, ac­cord­ing to Staff Sergeant Randy Fin­cham of the Van­cou­ver Po­lice Depart­ment (VPD).This en­ables peo­ple to more im­me­di­ately pro­vide help for in­di­vid­u­als ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an over­dose. Peo­ple should con­tact emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices be­fore ad­min­is­ter­ing the spray, Finch­man says, be­cause the in­di­vid­ual still needs to go to the hospi­tal to get treated by a doc­tor.

Safe ad­min­is­tra­tion

With the nasal for­mu­la­tion, “it’s a safer way to ad­min­is­ter the drug,” says Fin­cham. “In­stead of hav­ing a para­medic in a dark al­ley try­ing to in­ject the nalox­one with a nee­dle, they could more eas­ily spray it into a user’s nose. It makes the process less com­pli­cated.”

Since the opi­oid cri­sis be­gan, each year the VPD saw the num­ber of deaths and over­doses from opi­oids dou­ble. “It was fright­en­ing to wit­ness,” says Fin­cham. How­ever, a year af­ter Nar­can was in­tro­duced, thou­sands of first re­spon­ders have ad­min­is­tered the opi­oid an­ti­dote to help treat over­dose vic­tims.Across Canada,more than 75 re­gional or mu­nic­i­pal po­lice ser­vices have ac­cess to it na­tion­wide, in­clud­ing all 11 mu­nic­i­pal po­lice ser­vices in BC. In ad­di­tion, the nalox­one nasal spray is ac­ces­si­ble in public health units, hos­pi­tals, schools, and re­cov­ery treat­ment cen­tres across Canada.

The opi­oid epi­demic is tak­ing a hu­man toll on com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies. Front-line re­spon­ders like the VPD are un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure to deal with the tragic sit­u­a­tions. The cri­sis is hard to quell, ac­cord­ing to Fin­cham. “But we are try­ing to reach out to peo­ple and make them aware of the re­sources avail­able to them. By­standers and those in the com­mu­nity can help stop this epi­demic and ad­min­is­ter the spray to users.”

In­stead of hav­ing a para­medic in a dark al­ley try­ing to in­ject the nalox­one with a nee­dle, they could more eas­ily spray it into a user’s nose. It makes the process less com­pli­cated.

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