As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)

Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

As B.C. comes off the heels of the fifth anniversary of toxic drug overdoses being declared a public health emergency, Vancouver Island is facing possibly its worst point in the crisis to date.

That’s according to Dr. Sandra Allison, one of the Island’s medical health officers.

“Provincially, we are seeing some of our highest numbers ever. I think across the province, everyone is concerned,” she said during a Thursday video conference with media. “Island Health is experiencing some of their highest numbers ever, so we quite possibly could be the worst point ever.”

Island Health has issued a string of overdose advisories for communities across the Island over the last two weeks. Allison said it was an Island-wide response even though most of the advisories were for mid- and south-Island communities.

READ: Island Health extends overdose advisory for Greater Victoria

Allison said overdose advisories are issued after they review data from their community overdose reporting system, ambulance response and emergency room numbers, overdose prevention services and coroner’s reports.

“This week marks another week of worrisome indicators that we watch for as medical health officers,” Allison said.

When asked if any drugs in particular are causing the recent overdoses, the medical health officer pointed to coroner’s reports that show fentanyl and its analogues (similar drugs) were found in 80 per cent of last year’s illicit toxic drug deaths.

“We are seeing high levels of these analogues of fentanyl, as well as high levels of strong benzodiazepines in the street supply,” she said.

The toxic drug supply, the level of despair in the community and stigma are contributing factors to the increase in overdoses.

“We have to have a better understanding about why people have these behaviors and be accepting of them so people don’t (use substances) in shame and in stigma and all alone – and that’s where they’re dying,” the medical health officer said.

READ: B.C. paramedics responded to a record 138 overdose calls in a single day

Island Health is currently seeing higher numbers of deaths among men and people using substances alone.

“We really just want to remind people that they should not be using alone, that they should know their drug supply and we know that people are using illicit drugs and people use substances for many different reasons,” Allison said. “Medical health officers across the province and across the country are strongly in support of a safe supply because we believe that it’s an unsafe, toxic drug supply that’s killing people.”

READ: Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply as overdose emergency turns 5


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:jake.romphf@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Victoria

Just Posted

David and Julie Kaplan with their children Estelle and Justin. (Special to The News)
BC family whose move was stopped by COVID border closure back on the road

Maple Ridge’s Kaplan family will arrive at their new home in Nova Scotia on Wednesday

A sign to students outside Pitt Meadows secondary. The school is currently listed by Fraser Health as having COVID-19 exposures. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Schools in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows have COVID-19 exposures

Highland Park, Laity View added to list of nine with cases in past two weeks

Balaji Kumar in front of his backyard observatory in Maple Ridge. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge man makes astronomical discovery

Balaji Kumar spotted a dwarf nova outburst from his backyard observatory

Jack Emberly is the host of a podcast on CEED Pod. (The News files)
CEED Centre in Maple Ridge launches new podcast

Available on CEED Centre website

The Ridge Meadows Flames are hosting an under-15 development skate this summer. (Facebook)
Ridge Meadows Flames announce under-15 development camp

Junior B club to host eight skates in July

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

In this Monday, March 15, 2021 file photo a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is pictured in a pharmacy in Boulogne Billancourt, outside Paris. Questions remained Wednesday about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada, as Manitoba limited use of the shot and Ontario announced it planned to save an incoming shipment to use as second doses. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Christophe Ena, File
Questions remain about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot in Canada

More than two million Canadians have received AstraZeneca and 17 have been confirmed to have VITT

A Mountie issued B.C. RCMP’s first ticket for non-essential travel May 1. (Black Press Media files)
Driver ticketed, told to ‘return to Lower Mainland immediately’ by Vancouver Island police

The motorist was originally pulled over for driving-related offences May 1

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Children walk back to their classroom while wearing masks and physical distancing at St. Barnabas Catholic School in Scarborough, Ont., in October, 2020. A group of B.C. teachers has issued an open letter calling for the relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions for children in B.C. schools. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
Group of B.C. teachers calls for easing of pandemic measures for students

Teacher group says ‘response to COVID is out of balance to the cost our youth are paying’

Adam Hamdan has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorist charges given temporary residence in Canada

Adam Hamdan had been facing deportation to Jordan, where he holds citizenship through his Palestinian parents

Transit Police Const. Peter Kwok was filmed in December during an encounter on the Canada Line when a woman refused to wear a mask. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Woman who went viral by refusing to wear a mask on SkyTrain to pay $460 in fines

Footage of the December incident was recorded by the passenger, herself, and posted to social media

Lumber is shown in the back of a van in this recent image provided by the Saskatoon Police Service. The skyrocketing prices for lumber is fuelling a trend that has authorities across the country warning builders to keep their guard up. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Saskatoon Police Service-Const. Derek Chesney *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘It is a gold mine:’ Builders warned of rising lumber thefts across Canada

Many North American mills curtailed production temporarily earlier in 2020 because of COVID lockdowns

Most Read