This time someone found an unresponsive man at the city owned Wesley Street facility that aims to help those battling addictions or mental health issues.
“Deaths related to overdoses are unfortunately something that we do see throughout the year,” says Island Health’s Medical Health officer Dr. Dee Hoyano. “But the rate of increase has really been concerning to us because obviously it can have terrible consequences.”
Since December 20th the numbers on Vancouver Island have been especially troubling. In greater Victoria there have been eight overdose fatalities and now in Nanaimo officials suspect four.
Mounties, the BC Coroner’s Service and Island Health are jointly urging drug users to take precautions if they feel they must continue their behaviour.
“So that’s not using alone,” says Hoyano. “Having a plan if an overdose happens. Noloxone is in particular one of the things that can really save a life so you need to have a kit and know how to use it.”
At Edgewood Addiction Treatment Center in Nanaimo demand has been on the rise in recent years and their clientele is changing.
“Our admissions have doubled for opiate admissions and we’re seeing a lot of case reports with fentanyl,” says Edgewood psychiatrist Dr. Mel Vincent. “A lot of people are talking about the number of losses of friends that have died from fentanyl overdoses and these are very often people in their 20’s and 30’s. Kind of early career users.”
Vincent says a complete treatment program in most cases takes two years but with the stakes so high this is a great time for user’s to make a life altering change.
“We’re now in one of those times where the drugs that people think they’re buying are actually not what they’re getting and the result is that people are dying or having overdoses so it’s a great time to address your addiction.”
They’re acutely aware that addiction kills at Edgewood. They maintain a growing list of Alumni, who despite treatment, have lost their lives to chemical dependency.