"It was a struggle," she said in an interview with Prince George. "I felt that everyone thought I was looking for drugs on behalf of my friend instead of helping him move away from a really dangerous cocaine habit."
British Columbia is the first province in the country to introduce safe care guidelines to address concerns that street drugs would become more toxic during the pandemic and that more consumers would take drugs alone. Proponents and drug policy researchers have praised the guidelines as a good first step towards overcoming the overdose crisis in British Columbia.
"If they have access to more predictable opioid or stimulant or benzodiazepine care as set out in the guidelines, people will be able to reduce or eliminate illegal activity," said Cheyenne Johnson, Co -Interim Executive Director of the BC Center for Substance Use.
Access to safe drug supplies is a particularly pressing problem in North BC, where the highest rate of overdose deaths was recorded in March.
Budau's experience highlights the problems users may encounter when trying to achieve safe drug delivery in communities outside of Metro Vancouver, health care workers say.
In the larger city, which has access to health care, there is a so-called all-round care and living is connected, for example in Vancouver’s downtown Eastside, where a drug user can see a doctor who has connections to the building, in which he lives.
"Ultimately, this guide works incredibly well in certain contexts, especially where there is all-round support that we have in very limited environments," said Dr. Ashley Heaslip, a medical director of the PHS Community Services Society, which provides housing and health care in Vancouver and Victoria.
Heaslip said the guidelines should be adjusted in the future to help people who live outside of the larger cities.
"There will be no one-size-fits-all approach," she said.
Johnson agrees, saying that guidelines were challenging in communities where, for example, a family doctor is tasked with handling the new prescriptions. Drug dosing has turned out to be a problem, especially if a patient lives far away from the prescribing doctor.
Zak Matieschyn, nurse in Nelson and director of the scholarship for addiction nurse at B.C. The Center for Substance Use said he was facing a battle to determine the dosage for patients who could live up to an hour away.
"There are a number of scales and we are forced to reconcile the health and safety of the individual with the health of the population and safety," said Matieschyn
The difficulty is similar as with the prescription of methadone, he added.
“Is it reasonable to give someone a drug worth three days to use? ? Will they use it properly or will they redirect and sell it? “Said Matieschyn. "What is the impact on the community compared to nothing?"
It is a situation with which Budau is familiar.
Your friend was prescribed 40 milligrams of Ritalin, although he could receive 100 milligrams a day as an alternative to cocaine.
"When you prescribe Ritalin for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), you prescribe it as a small amount and work your way up," said Budau. "This is not really appropriate for someone who uses $ 300-700 cocaine a day."
Approximately 450 people across BC are prescribed legal pharmaceutical alternatives to illicit drugs, including 400 in the Vancouver area and at least 50 in Vancouver Island, health officials say for these districts.
Northern, Interior, and Fraser health authorities either refused to provide the number of people prescribed medication or asked questions about the Department of Mental Health and Addiction. There were no numbers for these areas.
PharmaNet, a database that records prescriptions that have been dispensed from community pharmacies, shows a 91 percent increase in the number of prescribed Hydromorphones – a pain reliever used to help opioid addiction. between April and March. A spokeswoman for the ministry said they were not sure whether the increase was related to the guidelines followed.
Northern Health could not be reached to comment on the guidelines for safe care.
Budau hopes that guidelines will be followed more closely for those outside of Vancouver in the future.
"It will reduce overdoses so much," she said. "But the way the bridge was cut across the secure supply was dangerous."
– By Nick Wells in Vancouver.
This Canadian press report was first published on May 23, 2020.
The Canadian Press