Drug users take to Vancouver's back alleys to help peers stay alive

By The Canadian Press
November 25, 2016 - 10:53am

VANCOUVER -- Drug users in Vancouver are joining forces to combat the fentanyl crisis by providing the overdose-reversing drug naloxone to peers who shoot up in the city's back alleys.

Vancouver Coastal Health says the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users has developed outreach teams of two people each that will also walk the streets to guide peers to use safer injection techniques and pick up discarded equipment.

Another group of drug users called Spikes on Bikes will work the Downtown Eastside on bicycles.

The overdose-prevention bikes team managed by the non-profit PHS Community Services Society will also provide naloxone kits and recover needles from the drug-infested area, including a park.

PHS senior programs manager Coco Culbertson says the drug users understands what it's like to call an alley home while living in poverty and facing the threat of dying from an overdose.

Vancouver Coastal Health is concerned that more people may also die from carfentanil, a drug that's 100 times more powerful than the painkiller fentanyl, which has been responsible for most of the 622 illicit-drug deaths in B.C. between January and October.

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