In North America, nearly 44,000 people die each year from drug overdoses; that’s 120 people dying every day. In BC, the opioid crisis continues unabated. This week, the BCCDC released a 10 stage action report on reducing overdose deaths. The report was compiled from a stakeholder meeting of 54 organizations representing policy makers, community organizations, government, health services, law enforcement and other.
As one person put it, “Urge the incoming government to reiterate the scale of the emergency and the impacts it has on our friends and families. These deaths are preventable and there is no one that can’t be helped. Stigma. Decriminalization. Connection. Rebuilding lives.” The full report can be found here.
August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), an event focused on prevention and awareness. IOAD provides a platform to acknowledge the grief felt by family and friends having lost a loved one due to a drug overdose. IOAD is also a day to raise awareness that drug overdose deaths are preventable.
The problem with drug overdose deaths is especially prevalent in BC. In May 2016 the British Columbia Coroners Service released the number of illicit drug overdose deaths that occurred in the province between January 1, 2007 and April 30, 2016. They found that there were 480 apparent illicit drug overdose deaths in 2015, a 31.1 per cent increase in deaths from 2014 (366 deaths).
In 2015 the illicit overdose death rate increased to 10.2 deaths per 100,000 population. Similar rates were previously seen in 1998 (10.0 deaths) and 1993 (9.9 deaths).
There were 76 deaths in January 2016; the largest number of deaths in a single month for the examined period (2007 to 2016).
Preliminary data suggest that the proportion of illicit drug overdose deaths for which fentanyl was detected increased to 49 per cent in the first three months of 2016.
IOAD provides an opportunity for individuals and groups to raise awareness of this issue. Support is available to support you holding an event, hosting a memorial, helping spread information about how to prevent an overdose from becoming fatal, organizing something in the workplace, or helping to raise funds for Overdose Day, you can email for guidance.
Or, you can simply share information via social media with Facebook, Twitter or other programs. Logos, posters, memes, fact sheets and links can be found at the resource page here.
Everyday, we see lives around us being changed and lost to overdose. Overdose does not discriminate—it could be you or someone you love, a friend, colleague or your neighbor.
This year on International Overdose Awareness Day, you can get involved to prevent the tragedy of overdose.