Sally Kupp, Clinical educator, Overdose Emergency Response, Prevention – at the Molson site

First overdose prevention learning lab opens

The Molson Overdose Prevention Site and Lab opened this month in the Downtown Eastside. Not only will clients who use illicit substances be supervised, the new space also serves as a learning lab where regular training and workshops will be held to teach people how to administer naloxone and how to set up overdose prevention services.

VCH provides clinical support and harm reduction supplies, while PHS Community Services Society manages the site day to day.

“PHS is proud to be able to offer innovative new space and overdose prevention services at the Molson,” said Jennifer Breakspear, Executive Director of PHS Community Services Society. “We are also excited to have a lab where we can offer workshops and training for the community, participants, peers and services so we can all remain informed and support each other through the overdose crisis.”

As a part of the lab a series of training modules will be available weekly to anyone, so they can get a certificate as an overdose prevention site professional.

“Even though overdose prevention sites are a relatively new service, the folks who work at them are doing such critical work,” said B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy. “There are approximately 700 visits every day to the overdose prevention sites in Vancouver, so we know there is a great need.”

“Much of this service is being led by peers, people who have real-life experience with using substances,” says Dr. Patricia Daly, Chief Medical Health Officer and Vice President, Public Health for Vancouver Coastal Health. “Peers can help relate to clients, which can help them feel more comfortable and encourage them to access other health services. Peers are playing such an important role in the overdose crisis.”

Site specifics

The Molson site offers six booths where teams of trained staff and peers will monitor people who use illicit drugs. The Molson Overdose Prevention Site is open from 1 pm to 11 pm daily. The Molson site will help relieve pressure on the Maple and Overdose Prevention Society Trailer sites, which have had more than 120,000 visits since opening in December 2016.

The new site is located in the Molson Bank Building, formerly known as the Roosevelt Hotel, where PHS provides non-profit housing for Downtown Eastside residents, many of whom have physical and mental health issues, social stigma, emotional trauma, substance dependence and other issues.

Overdose prevention services are part of VCH’s DTES Second Generation Strategy and one component of a comprehensive response to the provincial public health emergency that includes preventing overdoses, encouraging less harmful drug use, and providing treatment options for people with substance use disorders.

For more information about this new service or other information about overdoses visit the VCH website.

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