Doctors of BC announces policy on drug overdose injuries and deaths

July 13, 2021

BC is in the midst of a public health emergency due to the high numbers of drug overdose deaths and injuries. Last year, more than 1,700 British Columbians lost their lives to a toxic illicit drug supply and it is expected this year’s numbers will be higher. After receiving input from our members, the board of Doctors of BC approved a policy statement that calls for a multi-pronged approach to address the challenges based on the principles of harm reduction, prevention, treatment, and enforcement.

These elements include:

  • Decriminalization of simple possession of all controlled substances for personal use.
  • Enhanced coordination of and improved access to a range of community-based, culturally appropriate, evidence-informed substance use prevention, harm reduction, and treatment programs and services.
  • Increased access to health and social programs and services to address the social determinants of health.
  • Efforts to separate people from the toxic, illicit drug supply, and prevent unintentional toxic drug poisoning or overdose, including improved access to safer pharmaceutical alternatives.

Doctors of BC recognizes that this is a challenging topic, and there is no “one size fits all” approach that will work in every context. It is important that these models are examined through a holistic evidence-based lens, and considered in the context of the continuum of longitudinal, patient-focused care.

To support BC doctors in providing care to people who use drugs, including patients with substance use disorders, the policy commits to:

  • Advocating for improved education and training on substance use and addiction medicine throughout medical school, residency, and the professional career of physicians to enhance the provision of comprehensive, patient-centered care.
  • Advocating for ongoing research and program evaluations to support evidence-informed approaches to addiction and substance use care.
  • Seeking opportunities to contribute physician perspectives in the development, implementation, and evaluation of programs and services to improve addiction and substance use care in BC

If you have a comment or question about the policy, e-mail us at