Advocates for drug users in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside say despite several new facilities in the area, the situation is getting worse on the ground.
The number of patients using the Overdose Prevention Society’s former ‘pop-up’ injection site is skyrocketing, amid fears of a deadly new batch of drugs on the streets.
There was a time when the site run by Sarah Blyth saw about 100 drug users a day. Yesterday, it was nearly 400.
397 to be precise, 112 females, 285 males according to Blyth’s own records.
She says a new more dangerous mix in the drugs, what’s being called “purple heroin” on the streets, is behind it.
“We get like an outbreak, that’s what happens, you get an outbreak of people who are overdosing all at once so we’re seeing something, whatever they’re taking, it’s a lot stronger.”
Blythe says part of the solution is to have doctors administrating prescribed heroin so users can avoid the dealers, but says the stigma continues to beat the political will to do that.
“Someone having the leadership skills to say ‘this is the right thing,’ get a little Bernie Sanders-ish or something, I don’t know,” she says.
“Someone needs to take a lot of leadership and say ‘people are dying,’ these are the solutions, it’s all based on fact and it’s based on scientific evidence.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has scheduled a visit to Vancouver Friday to get a first hand look at the situation on the Downtown Eastside.