Measuring the impact of current and future harm reduction strategies in the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic in British Columbia
North America is currently experiencing an opioid overdose crisis and this has been particularly pronounced in British Columbia (BC). In this jurisdiction there has been a rapid increase in overdose deaths since 2012, which has largely been driven by an increasing concentration of synthetic and more potent opioids in the illegal drug supply market.
Despite a large effort within the province to reduce opioid-related harm, overdose deaths have continued to rise. Efforts include a scaling-up of BC's Take Home Naloxone program, a non-clinician administered therapy that is highly effective at reducing the effects of an overdose. More novel interventions have also included the introduction of opioid overdose sites, where people who use drugs can be observed and helped if they overdose. There is therefore a greatly urgent and important need to estimate the impact of these interventions and where new resources would be best positioned to have the most impact.
In collaboration with the BC Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and with support from BC Centre for Disease Control and the Ministry of Health, Irvine will estimate the impact of the current interventions to date as well as project the impact of future interventions and scale-up. Combining cutting-edge mathematical modelling and statistical techniques with provincial administrative datasets will support an evaluation of the current provincial interventions and estimate the number of deaths averted due to current intervention scale-up and proposed novel interventions. The collaboration with both Ministries will ensure modelled scenarios will reflect policy proposals and help to support and inform their decisions.