The Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR) is set to be piloted this year in Vancouver, the city most afflicted by Canada’s opioid crisis. A portable machine that allows for anonymous drug samples to be tested for deadly opioids and stimulants, the FTIR will be available at the supervised injection site Insite on Mondays and Tuesdays from 2-8 p.m., and at the Powell Street Getaway on Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
According to Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robinson, this “critical” machine will save lives.
B.C. Addictions Minister Judy Darcy has also announced that fentanyl testing strips will be provided to all of B.C.’s supervised injection sites, whereas before now, they had only been available in Vancouver. Fentanyl strip testing has proven to be an effective lifesaver for drug users, as in its trial run during its first year, 80% of the 1,400 drug samples checked for fentanyl with the strips came back positive, and as a result, data from the Insite supervised injection site showed that clients who reduced their dose after a positive result from the test were 25% less likely to overdose.
“Tackling this overdose crisis takes a whole province, it will take an entire province to turn this around.” Addictions Minister, Judy Darcy
The B.C. Coroners Service has revealed that there were 80 deaths in B.C. in September of this year related to suspected overdose, an increase of 31% when compared to data from September of 2016. This has raised the number of 2017 overdose-related deaths in B.C. to 1,103, 121 more than the total number of illicit drug related deaths in B.C. in all of 2016. In 83% of 2017’s drug-related deaths, fentanyl was detected, most often in heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamines. This is an increase of 147% from the same time period in 2016.
Darcy has also said that her Addictions Ministry is looking at “ramping up” an anti-stigma campaign to open dialogue and increase community outreach for those suffering from addiction in solitude.