In April 2016, the opioid crisis was declared a public health emergency in BC. And while Richmond hasn't made headlines for experiencing the highest number of illicit drug overdoses, there are many residents currently struggling with addictions and substance abuse in our community.
August 31 was Overdose Awareness Day—a global event that aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce stigma of drug-related deaths. It was also an opportunity to recognize the important work being done throughout Vancouver Coastal Health and here in Richmond to help support those struggling with addictions.
In 2017, 27 people in Richmond died from overdoses. This year, as of the end of July 2018, six people have died in Richmond.
There are many programs and services available in Richmond to those dealing with substance use problems. The Anne Vogel Clinic recently launched a new Opiate Users Group on Mondays, in addition to the assessment, treatments, and primary care services they offer. Adults in Richmond can also access services at the Transitions Mental Health and Substance Use Program for individual and group treament of addictions and concurrent mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety.
VCH also contracts with community agencies including organizations such as Richmond Addictions Services Society (RASS) and Turning Point Recovery Society to provide addiction prevention and recovery services.
Richmond is home to one of VCH's first three Community Action Teams (CAT). Established earlier this year, Richmond's CAT includes representatives from a wide variety of government and non-profit agencies including health, education, police, fire and ambulance services. CAT is working together to identify priorities for community action over the next year to reduce overdose deaths in Richmond. To help inform this planning, Richmond Addictions Services Society held two well-attended community engagement sessions to receive input from both the public and other service providers.
When it comes to overdose and drugs, there are many misconceptions and myths. One way we can do our part in helping to raise awareness of overdose is by knowing the facts. Here are some to keep in mind:
- The majority of people who die are males between the ages of 19 and 39 years old.
- The majority of deaths do not occur "on the street" but, rather, in residences where individuals often use alone.
- Fentanyl was detected in 76% of overdose deaths from the past two years.
- There are effective treatments for opiod use disorderand other substance use disorders.
- There has never been a death at any VCH supervised consumption or overdose prevention site.
Interested in learning more? Read the latest Coroner's report for recent numbers and statistics.
Read more about International Overdose Day on their website.
Overdose Outreach Team expands to Richmond the North Shore