Access to naloxone and treatment, shorter waitlists and wait times, and more funding for community-based harm reduction are among key government actions and investments completed in the first year of the Opioid Use and Overdose Framework.
Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey shared details at an event today, Aug. 31, in Truro.
“Our first year focused on the most urgent concerns – saving lives with naloxone and getting more people into treatment programs,” said Mr. Delorey. “We know opioid use and overdose remains an issue in our communities. We will continue to work with our partners and make investments that address this issue.”
Highlights from the framework update include:
— giving out more than 5,000 take-home naloxone kits to at-risk Nova Scotians and their families
— taking on 625 new clients in publicly funded opioid use disorder treatment programs around the province
— reducing wait times across the province, and eliminating wait lists for Direction 180 and NSHA Central Zone
— opening three new satellite treatment clinics in Antigonish, Bridgewater and Caledonia, Municipality of Queens
— providing stable, long-term funding for harm reduction to Mainline Needle Exchange (Halifax), Northern Healthy Connections Society (Truro) and Sharp Advice Needle Exchange/Ally Centre (Sydney)
— expanding specialized and therapeutic court programs to help respond to situations involving problematic substance use and the justice system
— providing specialized training in both policing and health-care settings on caring for clients who have experienced trauma (known as trauma-informed care)
— working with Health Canada and the Government of British Columbia on an online anti-stigma marketing campaign
Northern Healthy Connections Society provides community-based harm reduction and health promotion services. It provides naloxone, clean needles, outreach services and peer support in Truro and surrounding areas.
“Harm reduction is a critical part of Nova Scotia’s response to the dramatic increase in opioid use and overdose across Canada,” said Al McNutt, director, Northern Healthy Connections. “The individuals we serve are mothers, fathers, daughters and sons. Our goal is to provide long-term, stable support and this multi-year funding commitment from government helps us do that.”
The framework is designed to tackle the immediate impacts and long-term effects of opioid use and overdose in Nova Scotia with a focus on five key areas: understanding the issue, prevention, harm reduction, treatment and prescribing practices, and criminal justice and law enforcement.
“Opioid use continues to be an issue across the country and it is important we continue to take action to prevent more tragedies in our communities,” said Truro Police chief Dave MacNeil. “In Nova Scotia, police, through the Nova Scotia Police Chief’s Drug Committee, are fortunate to have strong partnerships with justice, health and community stakeholders to address this important issue.”
Over the next year, government will work with its partners in health care, harm reduction, police and corrections to continue implementing the plan.
For more information on the opioid framework and a summary of actions, visit http://www.novascotia.ca/opioid .