Tuesday, August 31, 2021

International Overdose Awareness Day calls attention to growing concerns including those of the Northwest

Today is International Overdose Awareness Day, a day put aside annual to remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind.

“Today is International Overdose Awareness Day; a day in which we remember and mourn the family members, friends and neighbours we’ve lost to drug toxicity. To the thousands of B.C. families grieving the loss of a beloved family member, I extend my heartfelt condolences and my hope that the stories you’ve shared will continue to influence positive change. Those who died mattered and their loss is felt deeply, and we must continue to urge those in positions of influence across our province and the country to move to urgently implement measures to prevent more unnecessary suffering and death.” -- Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner, BC Coroners Service

The commemoration at the end of August comes as the ongoing epidemic continues to claim lives amid growing calls for actions that will address a public health crisis and stimulate discussion on prevention and drug policy.

This year, the day of recognition arrives in the Northwest with a public warning still in place, with Northern Health having outlined its concern over recent Overdose events in the northwest.

With incidents of overdoses rising in the region, the health Authority issued a an Overdose Alert for Terrace and Smithers earlier this month.

Northern Health also provided a glimpse into the issue with this background piece from one family to reflect the issues of struggles with opioids. 

While Prince Rupert was not included in that alert, the North Coast Transition Society which perhaps has the most interaction with those on the streets offered up their own concerns at the time.

Today as part of their recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day, the Provincial government relayed the findings of the BC Coroners Service, which notes how more than 1,000 British Columbians have lost their lives to toxic, illicit drugs in just the first six months of this year.

“The deaths of more than 1,000 British Columbians in the first six months of 2021 is a tragic reminder that the toxic illicit drug supply remains a significant ongoing threat to public health and safety in communities throughout our province. The data released today highlights the immensity of this public health emergency and the need for a wide-scale response. This includes removing barriers to safe supply, ensuring timely access to evidence-based affordable treatment and providing those experiencing problematic substance use with compassionate and viable options to reduce risks and save lives.” -- Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner, BC Coroners Service

More from the Province on today's observation, as well as a number of links to other resources can be found here.

Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental health and Addictions also shared information on today's day of observation, while also paying tribute to the front line workers during the crisis. 

“I’m blown away by the heroic work of people on the frontlines of the drug poisoning crisis, saving lives under incredibly difficult conditions. Yet tragically, we're still losing lives. For people who use drugs, or who care about someone who does, it’s vital to stay safer in this public health emergency."

You can learn more about the Overdose Awareness campaign here.

Further items of note from Northern Health can be explored here,

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