A Scoping Review and Developing a Continuum of Safer Supply Models

Funding body 

BC Ministry of Health

Duration of support



British Columbia is in its 7th year of a declared public health emergency related to overdoses. While 2019 saw a slight decrease in overdose deaths, largely due to the implementation of harm reduction interventions, overdose deaths accelerated with declaration of the COVID 19 pandemic. This situation has not abated and calls for a safer supply of substances to replace the street drug market have increased in this context. The purpose of this project is to provide an overview of a range of safer supply models, their attributes as well as potential opportunities and barriers to implementation. Specifically, the project will result in a summary of the peer reviewed literature on prescribed and medicalized models of safer supply (including opportunities and barriers) and an overview of a range of non-medicalized models of safer supply.

Progress to date

In order to get a better understanding of the information that exists about the delivery of Opioid Agonist Therapy (OAT) and safer supply practices, a review of existing literature was initiated by conducting two searches within the Academic Search Elite, Canadian Business & Current Affairs, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Criminal Justice Abstracts, Medline, PsycINFO, Sociology Collection, and Web of Science databases, first in May 2021, and then again in October 2021. From these searches, a total of 79 of 110 articles were identified as being relevant to the topic. Upon reviewing the literature, three main themes related to OAT and safer supply were revealed: supervision and care, diversion, and innovation. A detailed report of this literature review, and on barriers/facilitators to accessing safer supply, was presented to the PHO in early 2023.