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OPIOID CRISIS – The reality of drug overdoses: some suffer brain damage

By MEL ROTHENBURGER
Director, Electoral Area P, TNRD

A stark reality about the opioid crisis was brought home to regional politicians today (Nov. 24, 2017) — even lives that are saved are often ruined.

Dave Harrhy and Rae Samson of the Interior Heath mental health and substance use department appeared before the board with an update on the battle against overdose deaths.

Electoral area Director Ken Gillis raised a troubling aspect of the opioid problem when he asked Harrhy and Samson whether it’s true that overdose victims who are administered Naloxone often suffer brain damage.

Naloxone is often injected into drug users to reverse the seizures brought on by overdose.

“What percentage of them can we expect to support forever and ever?” he asked.

Samson didn’t have numbers but acknowledged that some do suffer permanent brain injury.

“It’s a very complicated issue in that that’s the tool for saving lives,” she said of Naloxone. “There are definitely complications; it’s not a cure-all by any means.”

Gillis assured her he wasn’t’ suggesting people should be allowed to die “so they’re not a burden on the health system.”

At another point during the presentation, City of Kamloops Director Pat Wallace challenged the delegation on the cost of mobile consumption sites, saying her council was promised they wouldn’t be an expense to the City. She asked if the City could submit monthly invoices for the costs to taxpayers of police and bylaws officers who have to attend the sites.

“We are delivering exactly what we promised to deliver,” Samson insisted. “We have honoured that to the letter.”

“I don’t mean to be argumentative,” Wallace replied, but “We were told, ‘there won’t be a cost to you.’”

Samson and Harrhy said the largest number of overdose deaths in Interior Health occur in Kelowna, then Kamloops, followed by Vernon and Penticton. Deaths this year are projected to double over 2016.

Samson said fentanyl is detected in 80 percent of overdoses, and that they occur in both regular and occasional drug users.

Harrhy added, “The reality is that people are using right across society and people are dying right across society.”

One of the greatest challenges is to convince people to stop using the drugs when they’re alone, he said.

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About Mel Rothenburger (5151 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

9 Comments on OPIOID CRISIS – The reality of drug overdoses: some suffer brain damage

  1. Brain Damage? Most who stuck that first needle in their arm already had it,albeit a different kind.

  2. Jeanie Goodland // November 25, 2017 at 8:53 AM // Reply

    BC has the Good Samaritan Act.
    “A person who renders emergency medical services or aid to an ill, injured or unconscious person, at the immediate scene of an accident or emergency that has caused the illness, injury or unconsciousness, is not liable for damages for injury to or death of that person caused by the person’s act or omission in rendering the medical services or aid unless that person is grossly negligent.”

  3. The other stark reality of the crisis is…I don’t see a strategy to prevent more people from joining the “party”…
    The scary thought is that many supposedly well-functioning members of society, some of them even in influencing position of authority, require regular access to a variety of dangerous mind-altering substances.
    May be again, the best interim strategy would be to completely regulate and manage supply.

  4. The “drug problem” is going to bankrupt our society both financially and in personal human cost. That is the stark reality. Before and during and for the future of the opioid crisis, crystal meth has been the cancer that has spread through the lives of all who touch it.

    Its waste can sit hidden for years and fools in authority lie to themselves and others saying that more than one person should be the source of complaints in order for a report to be believed.

    Our Friendly “family” restaurant on the North Shore has become a prime location for everyone, young and old, to get a personal glimpse of the world of synthetic chemical dependency.
    No one can promise anything, Councillor Wallace, about the expense that will be borne by every person who lives in Kamloops. The RCMP face an impossible situation and it is only a matter of time until fatality pays a visit to a member or members as a result of contact with either opioids or one of the other synthesized drugs.
    The only good news is to teach our children that there is such a thing as abstinence and that word is the only method by which any semblance of order will be brought to the madness.
    When I had the opportunity of teaching young people in a pre-teen class, the buzz phrase I used was, “no booze, no smokes, no drugs”. Those who have kept that teaching close to their hearts have had the best chance at coping with the brutal realities of life.

    • Brutal realities of life…is that what happens when someone grows up in a pushy, materialistic, uber-competitive environment?

      • John Noakes // November 25, 2017 at 2:57 PM //

        We should get together and talk about it sometime, Pierre.
        It’s the “after me you’re first” idea of life. It doesn’t sound too bad, in fact, it sounds great until one realizes what is really being said.

  5. the nalaxone does not cause the brain damage, the lack of oxygen from fentanyl will

    • Mel Rothenburger // November 24, 2017 at 10:21 PM // Reply

      Yes, the point was made during the discussion that Naloxone is a life-saving drug in cases of overdose, but it can’t guarantee the overall outcome.

  6. These circumstances will all change the first time there is a lawsuit in the case of administered naloxone which causes brain damage, someone is responsible for the actual injection. Then everything changes.

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