Drug alert, overdoses show need for inhalation overdose prevention site in region
The latest drug alert and rash of overdoses in the city underscore the need for an inhalation overdose prevention site in Nelson, according to a new report.
Arising out of a two-day dialogue in Nelson late last year (Oct. 17-19), the 12-page report — Bridging Community Connections: Human Rights, Public Space and Harm Reduction in our Rural Region — highlighted the need for an inhalation overdose prevention site in the community.
“As you know, inhalation is the leading method of consumption leading to overdose in BC right now: services that focus specifically on inhalation are vitally needed,” said Shane Calder with the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition in a press release.
There are currently no inhalation overdose prevention sites in Nelson, but two overdose prevention sites are at ANKORS and The Hub, with a mobile site available.
Participants in the dialogue highlighted the need for an accessible safe supply of drugs in Nelson, noted by a drug alert issued by Interior Health for Nelson after a tested sampler found higher than average fentanyl. A safe supply of substances would provide people with accurate information on drug composition and potency, the report explained.
“The unknown potency and the unpredictable levels of benzodiazepines, fentanyl and other drugs, in the unregulated market means that people who use drugs are at high risk of accidental overdose,” it read.
Over the last few days in Nelson there have been reports of several overdoses, related to the toxic supply. IHA testing showed the drugs contained 25 per cent fentanyl, 17 per cent bromazolam (benzodiazepine) and 11 per cent xylazine — which leads to abscesses that don’t heal on their own. Naloxone cannot reverse the effects of xylazine.
Inhalation overdose prevention sites are needed for consumption of safe supply as inhalation is now the preferred method of drug consumption for many people, the report explained.
“The benefits of safe supply were described by one participant as ‘a stabilization that you can choose,’” the report said. “People who access drugs from the unregulated drug market may be at risk of overdose, and at risk of arrest, and it may take a significant time investment to access drugs.
“On the other hand, with safe supply, people have a safe, accessible, and consistent source of drugs. People with access to safe supply are better able to stabilize other areas of their life, such as maintaining social relationships, pursuing education and participating in the workforce.”
Another drug test in Nelson revealed a sample containing isotonitazene — a synthetic opioid up to five times more potent than fentanyl — contained in a pharmaceutical pill.
The report claimed evidence-based research demonstrated that safe supply reduced crime — particularly survival crime to maintain drug use — while enhancing quality of life and positive social engagement in the community.