Since 2012, illicit drug deaths in British Columbia have been increasing at an unprecedented, and equally tragic rate. So far this year, there were on average approximately 128 drug overdose deaths per month, a number which five years ago was only 22. Most recently in May of 2017, there were roughly 4.2 deaths per day due to illicit drug overdose, a 158 percent increase from May 2016.
The sharp increase can be attributed in part to the presence of the illicit substance fentanyl, a powerful opioid similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent. Fentanyl was detected in only 5 per cent of illicit drug deaths in 2012 – a rate that has increased annually, reaching 60 per cent in 2016.
This recent epidemic has prompted an overwhelming amount of concern and outcry, so much so that just over a year ago, the BC’s provincial health officer declared an official public health emergency in response to the rise in drug overdoses and deaths. The Provincial Government has created a Joint Task Force on Overdose Prevention and Response, with an action plan that focuses on seven key areas that will improve treatment system capacity and effectiveness and how the province addresses problematic substance use.
How Cedars is Responding to the Addiction Crisis
This addiction crisis has created detrimental impacts on available resources throughout the province, with treatment capacity for those suffering continuing to remain a serious need. As one of the Canada’s leading addiction treatment centres, Cedars at Cobble Hill is fully committed to providing support in response to this tragic overdose crisis impacting thousands of British Columbians. Working alongside other care providers and the government, Cedars will contribute both its available resources and its expert clinical and practical knowledge to improve both short-term and long-term strategies impacting overdose rates.
Specifically, in late 2016, Cedars was engaged as part of a thought leader group of private addiction centres to discuss additional approaches to assisting the Ministry of Health with the opioid crisis. In early 2017, Cedars was selected through an RFP process to deliver 10 of the 65 adult residential treatment beds on behalf of BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services (BCMHSUS) , an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority. Helping those in need, regardless of circumstance, is part of an organizational fabric upon which we have been able to help thousands of individuals and families suffering.
At Cedars, we believe that recovery from addiction is possible for everyone.
With our foundational objective to help individuals achieve holistic, long-term recovery through an individualized and comprehensive recovery curriculum, Cedars will continue to make all efforts to help mitigate this public health emergency that has caused an immense amount of devastating loss to our communities.