Talk before it’s too late.
That’s the message from Fraser Health’s new campaign that aims to save lives in the midst of an overdose crisis that has killed more than 1,000 people in B.C. so far this year.
“One of the major issues faced by people struggling with substance use problems – and those around them – is discomfort and fear about talking about addiction openly,” said Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy in a release. “We as a society must find a way to get past the profound stigma over addiction so that every person struggling with this issue gets the care they so desperately need. I encourage you to help stop the stigma by starting a conversation with your loved one who might need support, before it’s too late.”
The campaign includes a video and a four-page “When Words Matter” guide on how to talk to someone about drug use, including conversation preparation, tips to stay calm and focused, and self care while helping someone suffering from substance abuse.
In creating the guide, Fraser Health says it consulted with more than 50 people, focusing on men who were in treatment, daytox or had completed treatment, as well as their support networks to inform the communication campaign.
According to the BC Coroner’s Service, 91 per cent of B.C.’s drug overdose deaths this year have been people aged 19 to 59.
Of the 1,013 overdose deaths in 2017, 82 per cent have been male.
“Starting a conversation about substance use is never easy, but approaching a person you care about to have a conversation could help save their life,” said Medical Health Officer Dr. Aamir Bharmal in a release. “It may take time, but by checking in on a person you believe is using substances, and being open to talking about substance use in an empathetic way, you can help reduce their isolation and provide a more supportive environment for their recovery.”