International Overdose Awareness Day is the world’s largest campaign created to end overdose, remember those who have passed due to an overdose, and acknowledge the grief of those left behind.
This year’s theme is “Recognizing those people who go unseen.”
Harm reduction is about building safe and trusting relationships, reducing stigma, and ultimately, and most importantly, it is about saving lives.
Covenant House Vancouver recently completed a two-year harm reduction pilot project, and the outcomes of this program showed us that it made a real difference in the lives of young people struggling with substance use.
Some of the highlights from the pilot project, that we can share, are:
- 370 naloxone kits were distributed (naloxone is a fast acting opioid antidote that is administered by injection to a non-responsive person to temporarily reduce the effects of overdose)
- The pilot project received an external review, by the McCreary Centre Society, that looked at best practices, youth and staff focus groups, and survey results
- Based on our experiences, youth and staff feedback, and the external review, an agency-wide harm reduction training module will be rolled out later this year
Here are some outcomes that we saw from the pilot project and from those who received the harm reduction supports:
- Improvements in mental health
- Improved management of substance use
- Increased engagement with substance use cessation supports
- Increased engagement with CHV
- Reduction in harmful outcomes
As an agency, and from this pilot project, we have had many learnings and revelations about what we can do to change the course of the opioid crisis. We have a better understanding of what changes need to be made to advocate and help youth on their journey to recovery, such as:
- Remove the shame and stigma
- Listen to youth in need
- Change the societal lens to focus on the issues and not on the drug use
- Realize the connection between substance use and trauma
- Offer a continuum of care that supports all aspects of a person’s life
Harm reduction is all about fostering positive relationships and letting young people know that their circumstances are not what defines them, they are worth love and support, and that they do have choices, and we are willing to walk alongside them in their journeys.
CHV is proud to announce that it is offering a new program to support youth who struggle with substance use.
The Foundations program is designed for youth that do not require medical detox, but have identified working on their substance use as a primary goal. Youth will focus on whole-person wellness. Days will be guided by each young person’s individualized goals and case planning. The new program will offer seven supported recovery beds for youth age 19–24.
The program is Covenant House’s first licensed program and their first partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health.
Foundations will meet youth wherever they are at on their substance use journey and will take a trauma- and harm reduction-informed approach. Youth in this program will have access to other Covenant House services such as art therapy, life skills and physical and mental wellness services.
During the discharge process, Covenant House’s case management team will connect youth with appropriate services that meet their unique needs.
August 31st in the CHV Drop-In Centre
Today, from 2pm to 5pm, our Drop-In Centre will be hosting an overdose awareness event for youth.
There will be:
- Narcan training — led by youth who have been trained on how to properly use naloxone
- A memorial space — a place where youth can write down thoughts or memories of a loved one, or just have a space to reflect. There will be a burning ceremony at 4:45pm led by CHV’s Lead Spiritual Care Practitioner
- Prizes and a gift card draw
Today, help raise awareness of the hidden impacts of overdose, promote overdose education, and let your politicians know that you advocate for lifesaving policy changes.