Pubdate: Fri, 09 Jun 2017
Source: Coast Reporter (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Coast Reporter
Author: Sean Eckford


The Sunshine Coast's medical health officer says it would be a mistake
to draw any conclusions from a slight drop in the number of overdoses
being reported at Sechelt Hospital.

"We have more work to do," said Dr. Paul Martiquet. "We don't want to
give any false sense of reassurance to the community that we aren't
exposed to what the Downtown Eastside is - because we are."

Provincial statistics show April was the second-worst month on record
for illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C., with 136.

The overdose numbers on the Sunshine Coast have leveled out and even
shown a slight decline after a spike late last year, but the broader
trend still points to serious problem.

The BC Coroners Service groups the Sunshine Coast with the North Shore
and Squamish areas when calculating the illicit drug overdose rate.
The North Shore/Coast Garibaldi area now has an overdose death rate of
15.7 per 100,000 population, up from 10.3 per 100,000 in 2016. The
national death rate is 8.8 per 100,000.

According to Vancouver Coastal Health's (VCH) latest numbers, the
Sechelt Hospital ER has reported about 32 overdose cases in 2017
involving opioids as well as other drugs.

"We're continuing to see opioid overdoses and it's a concern,"
Martiquet said. "There are drugs on the Coast that are contaminated.
People should be aware of that. We're not isolated." He said heroin,
cocaine and MDMA (ecstasy) are among the most often-used drugs that
are turning up contaminated with fentanyl.

There were six overdose deaths reported on the Sunshine Coast last
year, and Martiquet said the Coroners Service is investigating two
deaths this year in which opioid OD is suspected. "There is a
potential deaths have been occurring from Jan. 1 to April 30," he said.

In the release accompanying the April provincial stats, chief coroner
Lisa Lapointe said a large number of overdoses are happening, and
being treated, at private residences.

Martiquet said that's why one of the health authority's key messages
is "don't use alone and people should reduce their dose if they don't
know what's in [their drugs]."

Martiquet also said VCH and the Mental Health and Addictions Services
unit on the Sunshine Coast have been able to get more than 100
naloxone kits, used to reverse ODs, into the community. They're also
on hand at the Sechelt Hospital ER, the shishalh Nation health clinic,
and the health unit offices in Gibsons and Sechelt.

Another positive sign is the success they've had in letting people
know that addiction treatment, including opioid substitution therapy,
is available locally.

"The clinic is running full-tilt, the physicians are all on board, and
the suboxone and methadone is available to anyone who wants to get off
their addiction," Martiquet said.

Martiquet said if you think someone is overdosing, call 911, and if
you know of or suspect contaminated drugs are circulating in the
community, you can file a "bad dope" report online at
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