In recent years, a significant increase in drug-related deaths has affected families and communities across Canada. In British Columbia, unintentional illicit drug overdose deaths increased from 211 in 2010 to an estimated 1,450 in 2017.
A September 2018 report — Illicit Drug Overdose Deaths in BC: Findings of Coroners’ Investigations — investigated 872 drug overdose deaths between 2016 -2017 and found:
- More than half of the decedents had reported a clinical mental-health diagnosis or showed evidence of a mental-health disorder;
- About four in every five decedents had contact with health services in the year preceding their death;
- More than two-thirds used drugs alone;
- 45 per cent of decedents had reported pain-related issues;
- 14 per cent of decedents lived in social or single-room occupancy housing and 9 per cent were homeless;
- About one in every four deaths involved people, primarily males, working in trades or transport;
- 65 per cent of decedents were never married and 18 per cent were previously separated or divorced; and,
- 44 per cent of decedents were employed and 51 per cent unemployed.
In response to the overwhelming numbers, the city of Vernon is hosting a free clinic to educate the community. Save A Life will be a one-hour presentation on overdose prevention training and education. Participants will learn about overdose statistics in Vernon, the basics of psychoactive substances, overdose prevention strategies, how to recognize an overdose, Naloxone and how to administer it and how to respond to an opioid overdose. Participants will also leave with a free Naloxone kit.
This free drop-in program is open to adults and young adults alike the first Wednesday of every month starting Nov. 7 at 5 p.m. at the Vernon Public Library.
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