FILE – An organizer displays a naloxone kit that people can pick up for free as International Overdose Awareness Day training seminar takes place at Centennial Square in Victoria, B.C., on Saturday August 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

FILE – An organizer displays a naloxone kit that people can pick up for free as International Overdose Awareness Day training seminar takes place at Centennial Square in Victoria, B.C., on Saturday August 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. a step closer to having some nurses prescribe opioid alternatives for drug users

There are 23,000 people in the province using opioid alternatives

Registered nurses in B.C. will soon be able to prescribe alternate medication to people struggling with opioid use disorder.

The program, which the addictions ministry described as the first of its kind, will start with a group of 30 registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses. In a Monday (Feb. 9) press release, the ministry said the nurses would be able to prescribe, buprenorphine/naloxone (commonly known as Suboxone), a first-line opioid agonist treatment medication. About 23,00 in B.C. are currently receiving some form of this treatment.

“We are coming up on five years since British Columbia declared overdose a public health emergency, and more than 6,000 people have died because of toxic street drugs since that time,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. “The COVID-19 pandemic has put people who use drugs at much higher risk for overdose.

Monday’s news comes five months after Henry first issued an order allowing some nurses to prescribe opioid alternatives to people struggling with substance use.

The ministry said that the first group of registered nurses would be followed by more, and that expanding who can prescribe opioid agonist treatment medication would be especially important to rural and underserved communities.

Qualifications for these nurses includes training developed by the BC Centre on Substance Use, including in-person mentoring with experienced prescribers. There have also been regulatory requirements established for registered nurses to diagnose, order, refer and prescribe these drugs with the BC College of Nurses and Midwives.

While figures for the entirety of 2020 had yet to be released on Monday morning, 1,548 people died of illicit drug overdoses in the first 11 months of the year – a sharp increase from 2019, when a total 984 people died throughout the whole year.

READ MORE: Some B.C. nurses given green light to prescribe safe drugs amid overdose spike

READ MORE: 153 people died of drug overdoses in November in B.C.; deaths climb in seniors


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

opioidsoverdose

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Canim Lake Band’s new housing project is nearing completion and should be ready in time for the spring. (Photo submitted)
Canim Lake Band’s new ‘tiny homes’ slated for completion this summer

Construction of four 500-sq.ft ‘tiny homes’ and one three-bedroom house began in August 2020.

Fire Chief Roger Hollander supervises the filling of the 100 Mile Outdoor Ice Rink. Hollander and the 100 Mile Fire Rescue are currently looking for new members. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile House)
100 Mile Fire Rescue seeks new recruits

Annual recruitment drive runs until the end of February.

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

100 Mile Fire Rescue responded to an early morning fire at 93 Mile Thursday, Feb. 25. No one was injured. (Kelly Sinoski photo -100 Mile Free Press).
100 Mile Fire called to early morning blaze at 93 Mile

One person was evacuated from the home.

Sarah Carter and Melody Watkins say that understanding bullies behaviour and helping those victimized are the keys to reducing bullying. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
PSO students tackle bullying

Pink Shirt Day PSO is about making sure victims of bullying are not alone.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Island teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

Teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressures from outside and within

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

Most Read