A clinic that will make medication for opioid addiction more available will soon open its doors in Langley.
Fraser Health recently announced the opening of new clinics across the region. They will be opening in Langley, Burnaby, Maple Ridge, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, and Mission in September and October, and will offer Suboxone and methadone.
“By opening new clinics and connecting people to treatment while they are still in the emergency department, we can initiate treatment sooner and help them begin the road to recovery,” said Fraser Health chief medical health officer Dr. Victoria Lee.
Lee said the location of the Langley clinic is still to be determined, and that it will be open “by October.”
The announcement was made Thursday, on International Overdose Awareness Day.
The new clinics are in addition to existing facilities in Surrey at Health Solutions on 135A Street, Quibble Creek Sobering and Assessment Centre, and Creekside Withdrawal Management Centre.
This new local clinic is likely welcome news in Langley City, where drug overdose cases have risen 500 per cent since 2015, much of it due to the use of synthetics like fentanyl and carfentanil.
A recent report by Langley City fire chief Rory Thompson said the number of overdose calls handled by firefighters rose from 80 overdoses in 2015 to 228 in 2016.
The fire department expects the final tally will be about five times higher than it was in 2015.
A BC Coroners Office report summarizing all unintentional illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C. that occurred between Jan. 1 and June 30 shows that Langley had 18 overdose deaths, 10th highest among B.C. municipalities over that six-month period. Vancouver and Surrey had the dubious distinction of topping the list with 209 and 87, respectively.
Speaking about what the Langley clinic will offer, Lee said, “We will have physician services available as well as counselling services. It’s open to people who require treatment and we can connect them with services. In other settings, we had a few of the clinics open in January and we’ve had almost 500 people who have now been connected to treatment.”
Lee noted that a clinic that opened in Maple Ridge in mid-July has treated roughly 170 patients.
“We’ve seen positive progress in terms of connecting people to first-line treatment,” Lee said.
The health authority is also introducing a program to allow people coming to some emergency departments to start taking Suboxone and methadone.
The number of patients with Suboxone prescriptions in 2016/2017 went up 82 per cent, from 1,362 people in the previous period to 2,476 in Fraser Health.
Illicit drug overdoses killed a record 914 people in B.C. last year.
– With files from Laura Baziuk, Black Press