August 13, 2012
LOCAL GROUPS MARK OVERDOSE AWARENESS DAY WITH CEREMONY
Victoria. Local agencies that work with people who use illicit drugs are marking International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31 with a ceremony to remember those who have died from overdose and to inform the public about the importance of decreasing the risk of future overdoses. The Victoria AIDS Resource & Community Service Society (VARCS), AIDS Vancouver Island, the Society of Living Illicit Drug Users (SOLID) and Peers Victoria Resource Society are working together to highlight the need for a community response to the prevention of overdose deaths.
“Our organizations work with people who are at risk,” explains Karen Dennis, Executive Director of VARCS. “Society tends to think of illicit drug users as disposable. We are all people; we all have family and friends who care, and there are things we can do to prevent the deaths of our loved ones and community members.”
Katie Lacroix, Peer Outreach Worker of SOLID agrees. “Our members are people who are incredibly marginalized and incredibly resilient. Drugs and alcohol are a way for them to cope with the reality of the pain in their lives. We are also a vital part of the solution and we take action everyday to reduce the risks associated with drug use, including overdose.”
Within the Vancouver Island Health Authority, fixed site needle exchange and supervised consumption services are still notably absent in Victoria; a situation that increases the risk for illness and overdose amongst people who use drugs. The BC Centre for Disease Control is developing a program to increase access to naloxone (Narcan), a safe and effective antidote to opiate overdose, but this resource is not yet available.
“Overdose impacts us all,” says Marion Little, Executive Director of Peers Victoria Resource Society. “We need to have the resources in place to make sure that people who use substances have access to information and support to reduce their risk.”
The August 31 ceremony will include several speakers, honouring those who have died from overdose, and information about to prevent and respond to overdose.
International Overdose Awareness Day Ceremony
Friday August 31, 10am
corner of Pandora and Quadra
media contact: Karen Dennis, Executive Director of VARCS