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New outpatient withdrawal services coming to Penticton, Kamloops, Vernon and Kelowna

A total of 174 British Columbians died in February from toxic drug supply
Naxolone, used to reverse opioid overdoses, is part of Interior Health’s addiction services in harm reduction. IH just announced new outpatient withdrawal services in Penticton, Kelowna, Kamloops and Vernon. (File photo)

Interior Health is introducing new outpatient withdrawal management services in four Okanagan communities.

The new outpatient withdrawal management teams will run seven days a week in Penticton, Kamloops, Vernon and Kelowna. If nursing positions are filled quickly for this team, the withdrawal program could be running by summer, stated the health authority.

“When people with substance use challenges make the courageous decision to reach out for help, there needs to be services to meet them where they are at,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.

The outpatient model means a person doesn’t need to be admitted to a facility to receive withdrawal support. Instead, patients will receive care, including the prescribing of medications as required, in their homes.

“Each person’s experience with addiction, and path to recovery, is unique,” said Interior Health president and CEO Susan Brown.

This announcement comes on the same day as the BC Coroners Service’s report on illicit drug toxicity deaths for February.

A total of 174 British Columbians died in February due to the toxic drug crisis.

The new nursing positions have been posted and recruitment is ongoing for the withdrawal team. Services will be implemented as staff are hired and trained, with service anticipated by summer 2022.

These new outpatients programs are in addition to expanded services in the North Okanagan, five new youth withdrawal management beds recently awarded in Kamloops, 22 adult withdrawal beds to serve people across the Okanagan and Opioid Agonist Treatment through IH’s nurse prescriber program.

For information on substance use services in the health region, visit or call 310-MHSU (6478).

Quick facts:

· Medically supported withdrawal management, sometimes called detox, is an important option for people with significant alcohol or other substance use concerns. Beyond physical and mental discomfort, withdrawal can cause medical complications that put people at risk of seizures, hallucinations, and even death.

· The outpatient model is expected to be particularly helpful for people who may face barriers in accessing inpatient (bed-based) withdrawal management.

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Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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