The importance of the second fentanyl forum in Maple Ridge was underlined by the overdose deaths of five people on Friday in Abbotsford.
Susan Carr, a school trustee who served on the city Strong Kids Team, organized a forum in October 2016, and on Nov. 1 this year will do another. She said the situation has only gotten worse in the past year.
By the end of August, the number of illicit overdose deaths in BC had surpassed 1,000, setting a grim new record, and 80 per cent of those are related to fentanyl.
She noted that 88.5 per cent of the deaths reported this year have been in private residences. That reflects how fentanyl is now being used, in many cases unwittingly, by recreational drug users, and not street entrenched addicts.
“These are people who have jobs, own or rent homes and have cars,” said Carr. “They are not active addicts.”
Just 11 per cent of the overdoses are in places like parks, on the street or in vehicles.
She pointed to the accidental overdose of prominent Kamloops citizen Christopher Seguin, a vice-president at Thompson Rivers University, who died earlier this month, as showing that virtually anyone could be a victim.
“It’s not safe to be a once-in-a-while, casual drug user anymore,” said Carr.
She believes recreational drug users may be at greater risk of overdosing, because addicted users are taking more precautions, such as not using alone, and obtaining Narcan kits, which administer the opioid antidote naloxone.
The forum will feature presentations from Ridge Meadows RCMP Supt. Jennifer Hyland, Mayor Nicole Read, Fraser Health medical health officer Dr. Ingrid Tyler and staff from Alouette Addictions in Maple Ridge.
Fentanyl Forum II will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. at Thomas Haney Secondary, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m.