(File)

B.C. moves to curb high number of overdose deaths by recent inmates

Community transition teams set up in Surrey, Prince George, Kamloops, Nanaimo, and Port Coquitlam

B.C. is launching a project aimed at reducing the number of overdose deaths by inmates recently released from correctional facilities.

A coroner’s death review panel last year found about two-thirds B.C. residents who died of an illegal drug overdose over a 19-month period had recent contact with the criminal justice system.

READ MORE: Opioid crisis may be shortening British Columbians’ life expectancy

The panel said that between January 2016 and the end of July 2017, 333 people died within their first month of release from a correctional facility.

The Health Ministry said Wednesday that five new community transition teams have been set up in Surrey, Prince George, Kamloops, Nanaimo, and Port Coquitlam to help people with opioid use disorders get treatment.

The teams consist of a social worker and a peer who has used drugs and may also been incarcerated to work with a person who’s been released to help provide needed support.

Lynne Pelletier, with B.C. Mental Health and Substance Use Services, says people in the justice system are some of society’s most vulnerable, yet they are the hardest to reach in the current overdose emergency.

“Integrating correctional care with community-based care gives us an opportunity not just to prevent overdose, but also connect to health services and possibly change the trajectory of their lives by addressing some of the social and economic realities that brought them to us in the first place.”

Dr. Nader Sharifi, medical director for Correctional Health Services, says about 40 per cent of people in corrections facilities are getting treatment for opioid use disorder.

He says people are at a heightened risk when they leave a facility and don’t have access to a physician.

“There are barriers to continuing the treatment they start with us. Clients are facing stigma. They might have no income and no fixed address. It’s not as easy as visiting the nearest doctor’s office,” he says in a news release.

The community transition teams began connecting with their first clients this month. The Provincial Health Services Authority says it hopes to scale up the project next year based on results of the service.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Point-guard lobs no-look, three-pointer for Oak Bay High video

Trick-shot only took three times, says Oak Bay teen

Phase-by-phase look at how Greater Victoria Public Libraries will reopen

GVPL to quarantine returned material for a minimum of 72 hours before lending again

Saanich residents sound alarm after second owl dies of rat poison

Great Horned Owl found in Kings Park killed by three rodenticides

Langford pitches Westhills as Canadian Premier League soccer hub

Langford could host all eight teams for August matches

Cancelled cruise ships costs Victoria more than $130 million

Transport Canada bans ships until end of October in response to COVID-19

VIDEO: Victoria dental staff dance to *NSYNC to promote reopening

Urban Smiles staff ‘want you back’ after closure in response to pandemic

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

B.C. aquaculture farm’s employees sweat it out to raise funds for food banks

For every five minutes of exercise recorded, Cermaq Canada is donating a dollar to local food banks in communities they operate

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Most Read