Controversial drug therapy focus of free forum

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A panel discussion in Vancouver is aiming to dispel misconceptions about a controversial drug therapy.

British Columbia is experiencing its worst opioid crisis in history, with 922 overdose deaths in the province in 2016. A public health emergency was announced by the BC Provincial Health Officer in April last year.

Now policy-makers are looking at new and different ways to address the problem.

Heroin Assisted Treatment is one of those being considered as a way to treat the opioid epidemic, and will be the subject of a forum in Vancouver on Monday night.

Douglas King, with the Pivot Legal Society, says Heroin Assisted Treatment provides addicts with a clean supply.

“If you have someone who has been on heroin for a very, very long time, Heroin Assisted Treatment is all about providing them with clean, injectable heroin [on] a regular basis, in a clinical setting.”

King admits the idea isn’t popular with everyone but says much like InSite, it’s about safely managing drug users.

“When you actually start to look at empirical research and evidence, providing someone with a clean drug that they’re addicted to is actually one of the most effective ways to reach them and to try to work on that addiction itself.

“It removes them from the black market.  When we look at the dangers of drugs and the damage that drugs can do to society, so much of it has to do with the fact it’s an illicit substance that’s sold illegally.”

Supporters of Heroin Assisted Treatment feel this would be a viable option to reduce opioid overdose deaths, claiming not one patient has died using this therapy.

“So, you don’t have to worry about what substance you’re taking, the degree that you’re taking it to, and you’re also being watched and cared for while you’re taking it.  So, without a doubt we think it’s the number one way to protect people in this crisis.”

The forum happens Monday night from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at SFU Woodwards in Vancouver.

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