Victoria parents who lost daughter to overdose applaud new Island health program that will provides injectable opioids to chronic users

Victoria parents who lost daughter to overdose applaud new Island health program that will provides injectable opioids to chronic users

Derek Peach and his wife Beverly Brookman are making purple ribbons for Overdose awareness day. In 2017 they lost their daughter Judy to an overdose but even before her death, they were tireless advocates trying to end the stigma of addiction.

“It’s everywhere and I think some have an idea that it is just the street people and it’s not,”  said Brookman.

They haven’t stopped feeling the pain of losing Judy but Tuesday they were smiling after finding out injectable opioid treatment is coming to Victoria.

“I am glad to see that someone has decided look, we have to make some safe drugs available,” said Peach.

The Injectable opioid agonist treatment or iOAT isn’t new and has been available in Vancouver since 2012 but it is the first time it will be offered on Vancouver Island.

READ MORE: Chronic heroin users given pharmaceutical grade opioids for injection in new Island Health program.

“Everyone deserves to be supported in finding their own unique pathway to hope and a pathway to healing. For some people that includes medication-assisted treatments like iOAT,” said Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy.

Adding this life-saving treatment option in Victoria means more people will be able to find the help they need when they need it.”

Under contract with Island Health the PHS Community Services Society, who already supports clients on iOAT in Vancouver, will service patients living at the Johnsons Street community where they will come in and get their dose under medical supervision.

“This is a medication that for them it will help them get better and significantly reduce their risk of death,” said Dr. Kelly Reid, Director of Mental Health and Substance Use for the South Island.

It will all happen in the same building where they are housed and can access other programs such as mental health counseling and Dr. Reid says that’s the key.

“We don’t see this as just offering medication this is medication and psychosocial supports that have to really come together to get the outcomes we are looking for,” said Dr. Reid.

But the program is only for a select few starting with five participants it caps out at just 20.

People eligible are those who are at high risk of an overdose and have tried other forms of treatments that failed. Much like Peach’s daughter Judy.

“We thought she had it handled and only in retrospect do I realize the truth of the definition of addiction as a chronic relapsing condition and she did relapse,” said Peach.

It’s too late his daughter and he says this isn’t the only solution but at least the announcement gives him hope.

“We as a society have more steps to go and this is a good one in that direction,” said Peach.

Earlier this year the B.C. Centre on Substance Use actually recommended taking it one giant step forward and allowing heroin “compassion clubs”, where users could buy regulated pure heroin.

The members would have to be doctor-assessed but the idea is that it would allow not just a handful, but hundreds of people access to safe opioids.

But so far neither the provincial or federal government has voiced support for the idea.

Luisa AlvarezLuisa Alvarez

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