A new treatment option is now available through Island Health for people living with chronic opioid addiction which will help increase both their safety and that of the broader community.
Injectable Opioid Agonist Treatment (iOAT) will now be offered to residents who have not benefited from other treatment options at the Johnson Street Community, a facility that provides homes to 147 residents. According to Island Health, this is the first time iOAT will be offered on Vancouver Island.
“Addiction is a chronic illness, and it needs to be treated with all of the tools at our disposal. iOAT is an effective treatment for chronic opioid addiction, and is one more way we can address overdose deaths,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, chief medical health officer, Island Health.
PHS Community Services Society, which also supports clients on iOAT in Vancouver, will provide the treatment under contract with Island Health.
People living with opioid use disorder can experience serious withdrawal symptoms when they can’t get the opioids they depend on. Those symptoms include severe pain and nausea. iOAT treatment provides pharmaceutical grade opioids for injections, which has been proven effective in treating people with long-term, chronic opioid dependence.
The treatment will be provided to clients through daily supervised injections in a clinical setting which ensures the safety of patients and those in the community. Initially the service will support six people, eventually expanding to full capacity with 20 building residents. The specially designed clinic space includes four booths facing a medication room and a multi-use area where clients can engage with health and wellness services.
The Johnson Street Community includes a supervised consumption site, which opened in December 2017 for building residents, referrals to mental health counselling, links to an on-site primary care clinic and linkages to social and housing supports along with substance use treatment programs in addition to the new iOAT suites.
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