Island Health issued an overdose advisory for the Campbell River area on April 13.
The notice reads that “there is an increase in overdoses in the Campbell River area from opioids and stimulants, increased risk with both injection and inhalation.”
The notice comes as B.C. enters its fifth year under a public health emergency due to the opioid crisis.
People are advised to visit the local Overdose Prevention Service (OPS), which is at the Vancouver Island Mental Health Society at unit 5, 1330 Dogwood Street.
The OPS offers harm reduction supplies, witnessed consumption for safer drug use and rapid overdose response. The Island Health notice says to have drugs checked at the OPS before using.
“Please use with somebody else,” said Kristi Schwanicke, program manager with VIMHS. “Come to our overdose prevention site it operates seven days a week from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. and we have a team on site to support injection use and inhalation use, provide harm reduction supplies and just share knowledge and information around substances and how to use in the safest way possible. We welcome anyone to attend.”
Other strategies for safer use listed on the notice are to carry Naloxone and have an overdose response plan, to do a tester before the regular hit, to avoid using alone, to use the LifeguardApp and to stagger use with a friend so someone can respond if needed.
The notice also reads that if someone overdoses, “call 911 immediately, provide rescue breathing and give Naloxone.”
“It has been five years since the opioid emergency was declared within the province. We just want to commemorate the lives that have been lost in the past five years due to toxic drug supply,” Schwanicke said. “I remember we weren’t even sanctioned to carry naloxone, and now how far we’ve come to anybody being able to respond under the Good Samaritan Act. It really has changed. However, I don’t know how the problem still continues. It’s alarming to know how many people have died due to toxic drug supply.”