A week after International Drug Overdose Awareness Day, the province has followed up, proclaiming Saturday, Sept. 10 as Recovery Day.
“Recovery Day celebrates the important role recovery plays in helping people manage substance-use disorder,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “The right services and treatments can be transformative, and in the face of the overdose crisis we’re currently facing, continuing to strengthen provincial supports is more important than ever.”
A lack of youth substance-use disorder beds in the Kamloops area was one of the primary concerns expressed by parents during last week’s overdose awareness effort. They said it's critically important for youth recovery to have treatment close by to enable famly support.
While making Friday’s declaration, the Ministry of Health outlined new initiatives to address that shortcoming, though the nearest facilties are in the south Okanagan and Prince George.
In July, Premier Christy Clark announced a new Joint Task Force on Overdose Prevention and Response, headed by Dr. Perry Kendall, provincial health officer, and Clayton Pecknold, director of police services. The role of the task force is to advise government on how to strengthen its response to an opioid crisis that has hit B.C. particularly hard, ahead of the rest of the country, over the past year.
In the past two years, more than 220 new addiction treatment beds have been opened provincewide as part of government’s commitment to open 500 new beds by 2017.
Additional beds will continue to be opened in the coming months. Over the next three years, five new integrated youth centres offering mental health, substance use, primary care and social service centres will open and serve up to 1,200 to 2,500 youth in each of the five communities through $3 million in government funding.
The Crossing at Keremeos facility, a new provincial 22-bed program that will provide treatment for youth and young adults with substance-use disorders, is scheduled to open in 2017.
A dedicated 10-bed hospital unit for youth with mental-health and substance-use challenges is under construction at the Hope Centre at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.
As well, in September 2015, government provided $1 million to operate and staff 20 new complex mental-health and substance-use beds through the Baldy Hughes Therapeutic Community & Farm in Prince George, which supports men on their journey to recovery.
Over the past two years, funding also been provided to support additional substance-use services delivered by non-profit organizations like Turning Point Recovery Society, New Hope Recovery Society, InnerChange Foundation, Watari Counselling, Support Services Society and more.
The ministry is also strengthening the Opioid Substitution Treatment program by investing in research and clinical practice. In August 2014, the Ministry of Health provided $3 million to harness new ways to treat substance-use disorders and related health concerns.
Since the task force was announced, government launched the first phase of a provincial overdose awareness campaign and website to increase awareness on how to prevent, identify and respond to overdoses.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is expanding the Take Home Naloxone program to include all emergency departments and public health units. Naloxone kits will also be made available to all people being released from provincial and federal corrections’ facilities in B.C., and to health practitioners at all provincial facilities where overdoses may occur.