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Overdose prevention & response

Overdose rates in B.C. are dramatically on the rise. In April 2016, it was declared a public health emergency. We are extremely concerned about the high number of overdoses and overdose deaths in our region and throughout the province and continue to take steps to respond. Learn about drug checking services and about opioids.

An overdose is when more drugs have been taken than the body can handle.

 Learn the signs of an overdose

The best way to prevent an overdose is to not use illegal drugs. If you choose to use, follow these tips to reduce the chance of experiencing an overdose:          

  • Don't use alone

  • Start with a small amount

  • Mixing substances, including alcohol, increases risk of overdose

  • Use where help is easily available (e.g. Insite supervised consumption site, around other people)

  • Make a plan/know how to respond in case of an overdose

  • Have your drugs checked before using

Concerned about someone?

Having courageous conversations about substance use begins by being a good listener. Learn more about how to reach out to the people you care about. How to have courageous conversations - BC Gov

Stop stigma

The opioid overdose emergency is affecting people from all walks of life but those affected continue to feel stigmatized. Stigma, or negative attitudes or beliefs, can have a major impact on the quality of life of people who use drugs, people in recovery and their families. It can prevent people from getting help. It can also reduce the quality of help people receive and make their condition worse.

Learn how you can stop stigma - Visit the Government of Canada webpage on stigma

Grieving a loved one

The BC Centre on Substance Use, BC Bereavement Helpline, and the Affected Persons Liaison with the BC Coroners Service have developeda handbook to help people who have lost loved ones due to substance use.

For parents

While youth aged 10 to 18 are not considered high risk for an overdose death, school-aged youth are not untouched by tragedy, either directly or through family, friends, and media attention to this emergency.

 Letter to parents and caregivers about drug overdose
 Talking to youth about drug overdoses
Free youth addiction services

For young people

Lots of people are talking about drug overdoses these days because more and more people in BC are having them, including some young people.

 What youth need to know about drug overdoses
 Youth handout: Reduce your risk of a drug overdose
Free youth addiction services


Recently released inmates (from custody)

Drug overdose is the leading cause of death for individuals recently released from prison. More than 17,000 inmates are released from BC Corrections every year. Approximately 30% of BC Corrections inmates are diagnosed with a substance use disorder.

Studies have shown increased mortality due to illicit drug overdose among people who were recently released from prison, especially within the first 2 weeks after being released.

Former inmates should be aware of this risk and access health services (such as a naloxone kit, opioid agonist therapy etc.) to reduce their risk.

Help us warn people about contaminated street drugs

If someone ODs, tell us what happened and we'll send out an overdose alert. Use one of the following methods: 

  1. Fill out this anonymous form to report an overdose

  2. Text “bad dope” to (236) 999-DOPE (3673)

Get drug contamination alerts

If you’d like to receive drug contamination alerts, text “alert” to (236) 999-DOPE (3673).

Unintentional deaths and injury from opioid overdose are preventable with overdose and naloxone education. Naloxone can quickly reverse an overdose. People can be trained to recognize and respond to an overdose by using a free take home naloxone kit. The training is free and takes 20 minutes. Find the nearest Take Home Naloxone site in the VCH area with the map below. For sites across BC, visit Toward the Heart - Site Locator

Muscle rigidity

Fentanyl-induced muscle rigidity, also known as "chest wall rigidity" and "wooden chest syndrome" is a complication from injecting fentanyl intravenously. The thoracic muscles become rigid, and affect breathing. It can also impact the abdominal muscles and cause them to become rigid. It makes breathing hard, but naloxone can help. Toward the Heart, part of the BC Centre for Disease Control, has created a Fentanyl-induced muscle rigidity tip sheet

Our team of outreach and social workers provide connections for people who have recently experienced opioid overdose and/or are at high risk for opioid overdose to substance use care and support. 

We help clients: 

  • Navigation to appropriate services (e.g., primary care, detox, treatment, etc.)

  • Support in accessing Opioid Agonist Therapy (OAT) (e.g., methadone, suboxone, iOAT, etc.)

  • Overdose prevention education

Call (604) 360-2874 and visit the Overdose Outreach Team page.

Contact the team if you'd like to request a naloxone training, or you have a question about our overdose services. Email

Overdose prevention checklist - A checklist for service providers who work with people who use drugs, for developing overdose prevention and response policies and protocols.

Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) Manual - A manual for service providers who work with people who use drugs, for developing overdose prevention and response policies and protocols (to develop OPS). 

Housing Overdose Prevention Site (HOPS) Manual - A manual for service providers who work with people who use drugs, for developing overdose prevention and response policies and protocols within housing facilities (to develop HOPS).

Overdose prevention checklist for washrooms - A manual for service providers who work with people who use drugs, for developing overdose prevention and response policies and protocols within washrooms.

Naloxone risk assessment tool for public sector organizations.

Monthly overdose statistics

Learn more on our weekly overdose surveillance updates page.

Access services

Supervised consumption & overdose prevention services




SOURCE: Overdose prevention & response ( )
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