In BC, we are on track for its deadliest year since the Opioid Overdose Epidemic was declared in 2016. Over the first six months of the year, more than 1,000 people have been killed by toxic drugs, according to data from B.C. Coroners Service. Since 2016, more than 10,000 lives have been lost; on average, six or more people die daily in B.C. from a toxic drug overdose.
In Vernon, we have experienced 22 deaths so far, and it looks like this year will be another record year.
We must talk about the Opioid Overdose Epidemic in our province and our community of Vernon. The number of lives lost to toxic drugs in B.C. is the highest ever recorded in the last six months of a calendar year, and this is the same for Vernon.
It is important to note that 84% of illicit drug toxicity deaths have occurred inside (56% in private residences and 27% in other inside residences, including social and supportive housing, single-room occupancies, shelters, hotels and other indoor locations), while 15% have occurred outside (in vehicles, sidewalks, streets, parks, etc.)
This problem is highly invasive in our community. Nobody is immune to the Opioid Crisis. Right now, there could be people in your life who are struggling with opioids.
Drug and alcohol use is often a result of trauma or injury in a person’s life, and addiction happens when you can’t stop using substances to relieve the pain. Addiction can stay with a person for a long time and is not easily overcome. When someone uses drugs, chemical changes occur in their brain, making it challenging to stop using substances. What makes matters worse is that opioids, currently available, are often a toxic mixture of several drugs, including fentanyl and benzodiazepines, that kill people.
The overdose crisis is very complex, and there isn’t a single answer to save lives. Everyone involved in this problem wants to see changes and lives saved.
For us at the Upper Room Mission, we do our best to love people that struggle with addiction every day, like everyone else that comes to the Mission for help. We must remove the stigma that comes with addiction, knowing that every person struggling with addiction has value and is a person with a story. We hate what the drugs are doing to people and desire change for them, but we can’t start to understand their stories or affect change in their lives without coming from a place of compassion and care. It’s only then we can try to help people struggling with substance use.
Here are some links to learn more:
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