Illegal drug-related overdoses and deaths are a serious concern across the country. In British Columbia, public health officials, front-line health providers, first responders, the BC Coroners Service and law enforcement are taking a comprehensive approach to address this crisis and prevent future tragedies.
The data are clear: opioid overdoses do not discriminate. With multiple populations in all corners of the province at risk, the response to this crisis must be comprehensive; everyone in the province has a role to play.
In December 2017, British Columbia established an Overdose Emergency Response Centre at Vancouver General Hospital to provide a co-ordinated response to the overdose crisis, using expertise from some of the public health experts. The centre will include staff from the Health Ministry, the First Nations Health Authority, first responders, addiction specialists and "people with lived experience". They will work with five new regional response teams and community action teams to deliver tailored services. This will link people who end up at emergency departments with overdose prevention sites, setting them up with housing or providing culturally appropriate services for those who are Indigenous and are likely to fatally overdose at three times the rate of others.
The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions is also working with various mayors to determine what services their communities need, such as distribution of naloxone, a drug that reverses overdoses.
Find out more about services available https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/overdose