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What about pop-up detox and treatment? Maple Ridge addictions expert asks

Mo Korchinski of Alouette Addictions wants government to fight overdoses like it fought COVID
Mo Korchinski of Alouette Addictions said temporary drug detox and treatment facilities could help government get ahead of the overdose crisis. (The News files)

Where are the pop-up drug detox facilities that might keep people addicted to opioids alive in B.C.?

That’s one suggestion Mo Korchinski has to deal with the unrelenting epidemic of overdose deaths in this province. The president of Alouette Addictions in Maple Ridge said the lack of such temporary facilities is a glaring example of how the government isn’t treating overdose deaths as a true health emergency, as it did with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Korchinski’s comments come as the BC Coroner’s Service released the latest statistics that show no abatement in the number of overdose deaths. Through August, there were 1,468 illicit drug toxicity deaths across B.C., which is on a comparable pace to last year’s record 2,267 deaths.

The same is true of Maple Ridge, where there have been 27 overdose deaths so far this year, which is a similar pace to 2021, when an all-time high of 45 overdose deaths were recorded.

Korchinski said the situation is not getting better.

“It’s worse – it’s a longer wait for detox, and longer for treatment,” she said, noting there is a month-long waiting list for people to access these treatments.

She said people overdose while they wait for a bed in a detox facility.

“People want help. Being an addict is the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your life.”

Just as the government was able to create pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics and testing sites, and the field hospital facilities in places with high rates of hospitalization, the province could offer temporary facilities to fight addiction.

“Fight it like COVID,” Korchinski urges. “It wouldn’t have to be forever, but let’s lower the wait lists.”

READ ALSO: Women of Distinction Awards nominee from Maple Ridge

August saw at least another 169 British Columbians killed by the toxic drug supply, according to the BC Coroners Service.

“The illicit drug market continues to pose immense risks to people across our province,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner. “People in communities across B.C. are continuing to lose friends, family members, and colleagues to the unprecedented toxicity of the unregulated drug supply.”

The 169 deaths in August represent a 12 per cent decrease from the total reported in July 2022 (193), and equate to about 5.5 deaths per day. So far in 2022, 71 per cent of those dying from toxic drugs were between 30 and 59 years-old, and 78 per cent were male.

At least 150 illicit drug-related deaths have been recorded in B.C. in every month since October 2020, with the exception of June 2022, when 149 deaths were reported. During that 23-month period, an average of 184 lives have been lost each month.

At least 10,326 British Columbians have been lost to the illicit drug supply since the public-health emergency for substance-related harms was first declared in April 2016.

“In their March 2022 report, the subject matter experts of the recent Coroners Service Death Review Panel highlighted the urgent need for the development of a provincial framework for safer supply distribution,” said Lapointe.

“This measure, along with a governance framework that sets clear goals, targets and timeframes for reducing substance-related deaths, and the establishment of an evidence-based continuum of care for those experiencing problematic substance use, were identified as three key areas to address this public health crisis.”

READ ALSO: Overdose stats bring frustration to those fighting the epidemic in Maple Ridge

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

Neil Corbett has been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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