Supervised consumption sites in Victoria will be the first on Vancouver Island to receive fentanyl test strips from Island Health.
These strips will be free to be used by people checking drugs at consumption and overdose prevention sites and will be distributed to locations in Duncan, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Courtenay, and Campbell River by the end of the year.
Other ways to be safe while using drugs
While these detection strips are encouraged as a way to determine whether or not a drug sample contains fentanyl, they do not always work.
A few weeks ago, Health Canada issued an advisory based on a preliminary study which concluded that fentanyl-detection test strips could sometimes lead to a false negative.
This means the test fails to detect fentanyl in the drug sample (even if it is there), lulling users into a false sense of security while consuming the substance.
Therefore if you are using drugs, other harm reduction tactics include having a sober friend around, starting with a lower dose, and having a naloxone kit handy.
Besides supervision and issuing detection test strips, Island Health also has a host of other support systems for drug users.
- Opioid agonist treatments (methadone and Suboxone), with peer support
- Mental health services
- Sobering and stabilizing treatment
- Recovery beds
Fentanyl-related deaths are on the rise
Despite authorities working day and night to crack down on dealers selling drugs laced with fentanyl, the fatal substance has been causing more and more deaths in British Columbia.
According to new data released by the BC Coroners Service, overdose deaths in the province have nearly doubled compared to last year, with most of them occurring in Vancouver, Surrey, and Victoria.
Fentanyl has been detected in 83 per cent of these overdose cases. Zero deaths have occurred at overdose prevention sites.