(Image / Island Health)

A new injectable opioid treatment program has officially opened its doors in downtown Victoria to help people living with chronic opioid addiction.

The Injectable Opioid Agonist Treatment (iOAT) is the first of its kind on Vancouver Island, and is intended to increase the safety of both users and the broader community at large.

“Everyone deserves to be supported in finding their own unique pathway to hope and a pathway to healing,” said Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy in a statement.

“For some people that includes medication-assisted treatments like iOAT. Adding this life-saving treatment option in Victoria means more people will be able to find the help they need when they need it.”

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The iOAT will provide people with daily supervised injections in a clinical setting to help protect the health and safety of users. Without opioids, people living with an Opioid Use Disorder will experience serious withdrawal symptoms, including severe pain and nausea.

The program will operate out of the Johnson Street Supervised Consumption Service and start with a capacity of six people before eventually expanding to a capacity of 20 people

Besides the new iOAT program, the Johnson Street Supervised Consumption Service also offers referrals to mental health counselling, links to an on-site primary care clinic, contacts to social and housing support, and referrals to substance use treatment programs.

“Addiction is a chronic illness, and it needs to be treated with all of the tools at our disposal,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Chief Medical Health Officer at Island Health in a statement.

“iOAT is an effective treatment for chronic opioid addiction, and is one more way we can address overdose deaths.”

(Image / Island Health)

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