A new drug-checking service has opened in Port Hardy, allowing users to test their drugs for potentially harmful contaminants or additives.
A new Fourier-Transform InfraRed (FTIR) spectrometer was set up at Island Health’s mental health and substance use office in Port Hardy this week.
From 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, people can drop by the office at 7070 Shorncliffe Ave. to have their drugs tested, with results complete in 20 minutes.
After hours, people can also drop off samples through a secure mail slot at the office and pick up their results the next day in person or online.
“My hope is this anonymous, quick but safe way to test drugs will help to diminish overdoses and spare countless families anguish, silence paramedic sirens, minimize emergency department admissions, and cut down on hospital stays,” said Port Hardy Mayor Pat Corbett-Labatt in a release Friday.
The drug checking service in Port Hardy is the first one to open in the North Island region.
Some samples collected in Port Hardy will also be analyzed by a mass spectrometer in Victoria on a weekly basis, with the goal of getting a more comprehensive look at what’s potentially inside drugs in the region, such as fentanyl or fentanyl analogues.
That data will also be used to help prepare drug toxicity alerts if necessary.
“We have seen more overdoses here over the past year and it’s not slowing down,” said Alexa Bisaillon, team lead of outreach services for Island Health in the area.
“Not only will care providers be able to help increase access to more relevant and drug-specific harm reduction supplies, but community members will be empowered with knowledge they can share with loved ones that also might be using the same supply,” she said.