Expanded opioid treatment programs yielding positive results: Interior Health

Opioid Agonist Treatment facility

Efforts to curb the overdose crisis in the Okanagan are starting to pay off, more than three years after the BC Government declared a public health emergency.

Increased funding for Interior Health's Opioid Agonist Treatment program has helped put more people with substance use disorder on the road to recovery. The program supplies suboxone and methadone to help patients manage withdrawal symptoms.

"Prior to the additional funds being received, somebody in Kelowna might wait a month or two to access these important medications" said Interior Health's director of substance use Corinne Dolman.

"Currently, a person is generally able to access these medications within a day or so"

According to Dolman, the added resources have also made addiction supports far more accessible to the general public.

"Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon, and Penticton have seen the implementation of day treatment programs that are now available to people residing in those communities and [they] are able to stay in their community and perhaps even stay living in their homes instead of accessing facility-based treatment outside of the community."

Dolman sees early indicators that overdoses are beginning to stabilize in the region - a good sign - but she notes the rate at which people are succumbing to powerful opioids like fentanyl is still far too high.

"There are some good indications that the problem would have been significantly worse had these interventions not been introduced."