Researcher will discuss opioid crisis during Vernon visit to Okanagan College

Researcher digs deeper into the provincial overdose crisis

  • Feb. 26, 2018 2:33 p.m.

More than 1,400 people died in the province of British Columbia of illicit drug use in 2017, compared to 993 the previous year. According to the B.C. Coroners Service, fentanyl use has reportedly caused more than 80 per cent of suspected deaths last year.

How, exactly, did we get here?

That’s the question that will be put forward by renowned researcher, Cheyenne Johnson when she speaks at Okanagan College next week.

Johnson, who is the Director of Clinical Activities and Development at the British Columbia Center on Substance Use and the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse, will share her perspective on the challenges of dealing with what some are calling the worst public health crisis in the province’s history, when she presents Beyond opioids: the overdose crisis—how did we get here? at the Vernon campus on Fri., March 9.

The talk is part of the Science in Society Speaker Series presented jointly by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

In her lecture, Johnson will provide a broad overview of the current overdose crisis and will also focus on the key gaps to improving the substance use system of care in BC. Key topics discussed will include stigma, science and social policy.

“Addiction, especially opioid addiction, doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. Most chronic diseases don’t,” Johnson said in a release Feb.22.

“Harm reduction is the foundation of all substance-use care. It is the lens through which we provide programs, policies and services, such as needle distribution, safe consumption sites, overdose prevention and education.”

In February, Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy, announced the provincial government would be sinking $1.5-million into the fight against the B.C’s opioid crisis by funding community action teams (CAT) in 18 communities, including Vernon.

In her announcement, Darcy said each of the 18 communities are eligible to receive up to $100,000 in one-time funding to create the teams.

These CATS, according to Patrick Gall, communications coordinator for Interior Health, will be boots on the ground in each community — tasked with spearheading local coordination and communication to respond to the needs of those most at risk of overdose within their communities.

“They are not an advisory group, they are an action group,” Gall wrote in an email following Darcy’s announcement.

“They will identify and address service gaps, apply successful strategies, share learnings, and integrate the current response at a local community level,”

“There are specific strategies and interventions for the health care and community environment to address.”

Gall said the community action team memberships will vary from municipality to municipality and, although there are suggested appropriate members, each community has the opportunity to develop a team or enhance a team based on their community needs and resources. 

Admission to Johnson’s lecture is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644 or visit

Erin Christie

Morning Star Staff


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Vernon Peewees second at Valley of Champions tournament

The Vernon A Peewees baseball team won the silver medal on July 14

Vernon Women’s Transition House changes name

Name changed to Archway Society for Domestic Peace to showcase all programs offered

Vernon seniors want to volunteer with cats and dogs at SPCA

GoFundMe campaign launched to cover transportation costs for three animal-loving seniors

Shuswap donkey refuge event celebrates 20 years of rescues

The Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge will host its Donkey Day fundraiser on July 27

Vernon speaker to motivate Cariboo residents after mill shutdowns

Change management speaker Mark DeVolder will deliver town hall keynote in 100 Mile House

When walls talk: Vernon murals see generation II

“This new movement, an app, will bring the strength of some of those same Vernon visionaries together again into a newdigital form”

COLUMN: Looking back to a time of optimism

The first lunar landing 50 years ago was a time to celebrate dreams and accomplishments

Highway 1 closed near Revelstoke

No estimated time for opening

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Okanagan e-scooter company foils robberies

OGO Scooters staff helped return stolen property three times in 1st week of operations in Kelowna

Olympian brings women empowerment in sports to the Okanagan

Two-time medalist Natalie Spooner joined the Girls Rock the Rink event in Kelowna

Okanagan school district monitoring McCurdy supportive housing plan debate

Top priority for board of education is to maintain safety integrity of local schools

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

Most Read