EDITORIAL: Overdose awareness day illustrates public health crisis

With too many drug overdoses and deaths, best way still to reduce risk is abstinence

Marking an International Overdose Awareness Day, as was done in Victoria with a ceremony and vigil in Centennial Square on Aug. 31, might seem moot, as few are unaware of the devastation and sadness caused in recent years by the use of drugs.

But this day not only brought light to the worst human health crisis in B.C. since the AIDS epidemic, it memorialized those who have died seeking an escape from the pain of life through ingesting drugs.

And that may be the best way to lessen the impact and reach of deadly substances such as fentanyl and carfentanil. By making very public the human stories of those who have lost their lives, and the grieving family and friends they left behind, others who would travel the same path might make different choices.

In her new role as B.C. Minister for Mental Health and Addictions, Judy Darcy has visited front line service providers and spoken to clients. Reflecting on Overdose Awareness Day, she wrote of being struck by how this crisis has seen people die from all walks of life: all ages, professions, education and income levels. And how the stigma around drug use drives people into dangerous patterns.

“[That] fear of judgment and shame can keep people in the cycle of addiction and prevent them from seeking help to improve their lives,” she wrote. “It drives people to use drugs alone, which can come at a terrible price.The majority of people who are dying from overdose are dying alone at home.”

Those who spoke in the square Thursday had messages of hope, but also implored people to treat others with compassion, especially if it’s apparent they are struggling somehow.

It’s a huge risk to admit the extent of one’s problem and ask for help. Supporting our friends or family members, rather than chastising them or even ignoring the problem, is a better way to reduce this crisis. The chances of people healing from addiction or mental health challenges on their own are slim to none.

Just Posted

Thousands of cigarette butts collected and recycled from downtown Victoria

Canisters placed throughout the downtown core have made an impact on local litter

Victoria recreation fees set to rise nearly five per cent

Fee increase needed for wages, aging infrastructure costs says staff report

Road work on Island Highway could cause some delays in View Royal

Temporary lane closures from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. between Beaumont and View Royal avenues

Mysterious polaroid camera left along Metchosin trail reveals art project

Artist ‘Jar Binks’ lays claim to waterproof camera

VIDEO: Disney Plus gives Canadians a streaming platform that nearly matches U.S. version

The Walt Disney Company’s new subscription platform unveiled a comprehensive offering of nearly 500 films

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Autism support dog refused bus access for being a ‘pet’

B.C. grandmother files complaint with TransLink, calls for better awareness of service dogs

Sex assault charge stayed against Port Moody mayor

Rob Vagramov appeared in provincial court in Port Coquitlam

73% of B.C. residents agree with a temporary ban on vaping products: poll

54% say they would not date someone who vapes, Research Co. poll suggests

B.C.’s 13-cent gasoline gap still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

Former Vancouver Canucks player suing financial advisors for negligence

Jason Garrison claimed his advisors failed to take his circumstances into account

Group walking on thin ice at B.C. lake sparks warning from RCMP

At least seven people were spotted on Joffre Lakes, although the ice is not thick enough to be walked on

B.C. teacher said he would use student to ‘whack’ two others on Grade 8 field trip

Campbell River teacher-on-call suspended three weeks after November 2018 incident

Most Read