As August 31st, the International Overdose Awareness Day, sees daylight, British Columbia (B.C.) mourns ever more deeply. The figures released by Coroners Service show that in the first half of this year, 1,011 people died due to illicit drug overuse or, drug overdose.
This breaks down to about 5.3 people dying of this cause every day. If the figures are compared with those of the last year (4.7 deaths a day), we see an alarming trend on the rise. At this rate, by the end of this year, B.C. would have around 2,000 deaths from a drug overdose as compared to 1,716 overdose deaths last year, which in itself was a record.
B.C.’s Overdose Crisis
The figures show that there is clearly an overdose crisis that the province is facing. A crisis where, as per the same Coroners Service report, males, aged between 30-59 are the biggest victims. And that it is most rampant in the province in Vancouver, Surrey, and Victoria.
It is a crisis because one, it is an avoidable cause of death, and yet, its numbers are breaking their previous records every year. And two because the lives lost to this cause end up marginalising space for the families of the dead too due to the stigmas attached to it. This, in turn, leads to widespread devastations that more often than not go unnoticed.
What Must Change
To avert this crisis and crises of similar nature the world over, the campaign behind the International Overdose Awareness Day calls for a three-pronged fight:
“International Overdose Awareness Day is the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind. Time to Remember. Time to Act,” reads the official website of the observance cause.
To make the first part of the campaign manifesto a success, we must raise as much awareness about overdose as we can. This awareness entails education on how not to use drugs alone, understanding your tolerance and the body, being aware of the quality of the substance, using technology including apps like Lifeguard to stay safe, and timely seeking professional help for abusive tendencies towards different substances. The education about illicit drugs and their harmful effects too is, of course, a fundamental element.
While raising awareness about that element, we must remember the lives lost to drug overdose too. This remembrance must come without any judgements or assumptions about the circumstances of the victims or any shaming and isolation of their families. These steps are essential to truly understand how crucial awareness is and stop further devastations of these tragedies.
Remember, your drug usage, or its history for that matter, is nothing to be ashamed of. If you or a loved one suffers from such a problem, seeking timely professional help can save a saveable life.
If you are anywhere in the Lower Mainland area, you can always turn to Annie’s Place for professional healthcare services at home.