VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — For the first time in B.C., drug users will soon be able to check their drugs for traces of fentanyl at home.
Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, with Vancouver Coastal Health, says making the product available for home use, and not just at InSite, was an easy call.
“When people check opioids at home, they get the same results people were getting when they chek opioids on site. The results we got over that period of time were within one per cent of each other”
As to statistics provided by VCH, 89.95 per cent of the take-home drug checks found fentanyl in opioid samples.
On-site drug checkings saw fentanyl in 89.14 per cent of the samples.
In 2019’s overdose crisis report from Vancouver Coastal Health, toxic drug supply was by far the biggest killer.
The report last year said a toxic supply of illicit drugs has meant fentanyl, an opioid 50 times stronger than heroin, was detected in 87 per cent of overdose deaths in the Vancouver Coastal Health area in 2018, up from 25 per cent in 2015.
Lysyshyn is hopeful this will encourage those who use to be more vigilant about what exactly is in their substance of choice.
“If people know that there is a toxic opioid in their drug sample, then they can make choices on how to use it,” he says.
“They could decide not to use the drug at all. They could use a smaller amount of it, they could use it more slowly, they could use it in the presence of a friend, they could go to a supervised function site.”
Lysyshyn hopes this will ultimately help prevent the number of overdose deaths and help eliminate certain stigmas that are attached to drug users.
“They may be worried about arrest, or worried about people finding out they have problems with drug use or they use drugs,” Lysyshyn says.
“This would allow, once the program is fully expanded, to pick up fentanyl test strips along with other harm reduction supplies.”
The test strips will be available starting next week at supervised injection and overdose prevention sites.