Recovery centres in Penticton concerned about users struggling with addiction dealing with isolation and toxic drug supply

Lives lost 'needlessly'

Casey Richardson

“How many more lives do we have to lose needlessly before change happens?”

Recovery houses in the South Okanagan are concerned about those struggling with addiction also continuing to deal with isolation as overdose deaths numbers in BC continue to rise. 

May, June and July this year saw illicit death numbers hitting over 170 in BC, and the 2020 year has already claimed 909 lives. 

Jerome Abraham, executive director for Discovery House, a Penticton recovery resource society, noticed a higher prevalence of overdose since COVID-19 started. 

“The province I think in the last four months, there’s been a huge spike,” Abraham said. “The biggest challenge has been that COVID, with all the warnings and protocols has really further isolated people that are already dying from a disease of isolation.” 

According to the report from the BC Coroners Service, this year saw 56 per cent of death happen in private residence and 26 per cent happen in another form of residence.

“[The] thought is that the overdoses are happening for people on the street, but most of the overdoses and especially fatal ones are happening in isolation in hotels and homes.”

Daryl Meyers, the executive director for Pathways addiction resource centre in Penticton is worried about the current toxic drug supply.

“People are dying because the drugs are unsafe,” Meyers said. “We need to give people a clean supply.”

Pathways focuses on substance abuse and addiction services for all ages and focuses on outpatient treatment.

“Over the last two months we have seen a huge increase in people accessing our services,” Meyers said.   

While Penticton continues to see a steady flow of people seeking help and recovery with addiction, they’re encouraging people to be around others when they use.

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