The Fentanyl Fix: How do we solve B.C.'s opioid overdose crisis
From cutting off the supply chain to decriminalizing drugs, here are some ideas
It's 100 times stronger than heroin and was linked to hundreds of overdose deaths last year across B.C.
Fentanyl is a game-changing opioid that has sparked a public health emergency in the province.
The latest numbers, released Friday, show a staggering 116 people died of an overdose last month — more than seven deaths every two days.
But how do we stop opioids from reaching users and what can be done to stop this overdose crisis?
Watch the video to explore 5 big ideas
The Fentanyl Fix is a week long series exploring potential solutions to B.C.'s opioid overdose crisis. In 2016, 914 British Columbians died by overdosing on illicit drugs.
1. Cut off the supply
According to the Canada Border Services Agency, China is the principal source country of the fentanyl that makes its way into Canada.
Experts weigh-in on what effect cutting off illegal fentanyl supplies into B.C. could have on the current opioid crisis.
2. Decriminalize drugs
When people discuss bold options for dealing with British Columbia's drug crisis, decriminalization of all illegal drugs comes up with regularity.
Once ridden with a heroin epidemic that affected approximately one per cent of the country's entire population, Portugal decriminalized all illegal drugs in 2001.
Over time, the drug crisis in Portugal stabilized to the point where it has one of the lowest fatal overdose rates in the world, according to the 2016 United Nations World Drug report.
3. Manage addiction better
It's a drug that's revolutionized opioid addiction treatment and is credited with saving thousands of lives in British Columbia: Suboxone is a form of opioid replacement therapy that's become more common in recent years alongside methadone.
And yet, despite its effectiveness, a small percentage of doctors in B.C. prescribe the drug or even know how to.
4. Expand prescription heroin programs
Prescription heroin has been pointed to as a potential fix for the fentanyl overdose crisis that has been ravaging the Downtown Eastside, and affecting people across the province.
But the idea of giving addicts free drugs to inject into their veins is one that gives some people pause, and policy makers have not been quick to adopt injectable therapy as a solution to the overdose crisis.
5. Treat causes of addiction
While addiction is driven by a complex mix of social and genetic factors that science continues to unravel, trauma is turning out to be one of the main predictors.
- A previous version of this story said fentanyl was linked to nearly 1,000 deaths last year. In fact, the B.C Coroners Service has been unable to say how many deaths involved fentanyl last year but, between January and October, fentanyl was detected in 60 per cent of illicit drug overdose deaths.Feb 20, 2017 4:05 PM PT