Pubdate: Wed, 06 Sep 2017
Source: Victoria News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Black Press


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.
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