A day after the B.C. government rolled out a series of public service announcements to alert British Columbians about the dangers of fentanyl amidst the on-going overdose crisis in the province, students at the University of British Columbia will get access to the take-home Naloxone kits that can help save lives.
Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) says there were eight illicit drug overdose visits to the UBC Urgent Care Centre between January and September of this year, compared to six for the same time period in 2015.
The latest overdose statistics released by the BC Coroners’ Service in October suggest the number of illicit drug deaths in B.C. for the first nine months of 2016 has so far surpassed the total number tallied for last year.
To combat the problem, UBC students will now be able to pick-up free naloxone kits on campus if they think they are at risk of an overdose.
Students will also be able to receive training from a nurse on how to recognize the signs of an overdose and how to administer the life-saving antidote.
VCH says young adults who use party drugs, like Ecstasy or Molly, are at-risk of an opioid overdose without even knowing it. These party drugs are increasingly getting laced with fentanyl, which can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine.
READ MORE: Fentanyl 101: The facts and dangers
Even small doses of fentanyl can suppress breathing and cause an overdose, resulting in severe brain damage and even death.
Naloxone works to counteract opioids, including heroin, fentanyl, morphine and methadone. It blocks opioid receptors and restores breathing within two to five minutes.
Within the next few months, all 14 urgent care centres and emergency departments in the VCH region will have naloxone in stock for nurses and doctors to give to patients on discharge. There are 62 additional sites in the VCH region, including community health centres and harm reduction services, where the kits are also available.
In an exclusive interview on Wednesday, Global News spoke with Premier Christy Clark about the opioid crisis in B.C. to address some of the critics who believe the government isn’t doing enough to combat the problem.