Long before the COVID-19 pandemic happened, BC was struggling with another public health crisis: the opioid overdose emergency.
As toxic drugs continue to circulate in the province, BC recommends sharing life-saving tools and resources.
“The Toxic Drugs are Circulating campaign meets students where they’re at and gives them tools to help stay safe,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training.
“As students return to campus and social activities, we want to make sure they are safe, informed, and have access to the information and supports they need. It is important for us to do what we can to turn the tide on the poisoned drug crisis affecting British Columbians.”
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The campaign, which has been running since August, has been extended in the hopes of reaching post-secondary students this fall to provide them with resources to empower them to stay safer.
With a focus on harm-reduction resources, like how to recognize an overdose and how to download the Lifeguard App, they’re also launching Here2Talk. It’s a free 24/7 mental health counselling and referral service for all BC post-secondary students.
They will also be expanding access to naloxone, which blocks the effects of opioids to help return a person’s breathing to normal after overdose.
“With students coming back together after a long, hard time apart, many are excited to socialize and celebrate. If that involves drugs, be sure to buddy up and carry naloxone at all times, know the risks and how to stay safer,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.
“With more than five people dying each day in British Columbia because of poisoned drugs, it’s crucial that people understand that toxic drugs are circulating, and people should take every precaution when they use.”
The province is relying on coordination directly with post-secondary institution organizations to help distribute resources and spread the message.
“It’s time to move beyond the ‘just say no’ messaging of yesterday because we know that some students will decide to use drugs at some point,” said James Cabangon, associate vice-president, AMS Student Society of UBC Vancouver.
“Our harm-reduction project informs students about naloxone kits and distributes as many as possible throughout campus. The more kits we distribute, the more lives we can save. Having said that, we’re glad to see our projects serving each other in value and hopefully, in effect.”