Interior Health is jumping on board with a new research project that is providing substance users with take-home drug tests to check if the substances are safe to use.
Take-home tests are available at several sites including Kamloops, Cranbrook, Merrit, Nelson, Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon, but not 100 Mile House.
“We know using drugs alone presents a significant risk amidst a toxic, unpredictable and illegal drug supply that is taking three to four lives every single day,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Drug checking is an important tool in our toolbox and through this research project we can learn more about how to keep people safer and help them find a pathway to hope.”
Through the pilot, users can get five free test strips, with instructions to take home and check whether or not the substances they are using, possibly contain fentanyl – the toxin being mixed into illegal drugs.
Fentanyl was responsible for approximately 87 per cent of illicit drug overdose deaths in 2018 in B.C.
According to the BC Coroner’s report, for the Health Service Delivery Area Thompson Cariboo, there were 66 deaths from overdose in 2017, 84 in 2018.
In 2019 to date there have been 19 deaths.
“The criteria for becoming a drug checking site is based on a variety of factors including surveillance, community need, and an agency’s capacity to take on the work, said Erin Toews, Interior Health communications consultant. “We have not been able to identify someone to provide drug-checking in the Cariboo region, but we are open to discussions if we were to be approached by an appropriate agency.”
Anyone in the 100 Mile House area with concerns in regards to mental health or substance use, can contact the local Mental Health and Substance Use office at 250-395-7676, regarding service options and intake.