The health authority is implementing another more harm-reduction tool in its efforts to prevent drug poisonings.
Island Health announced a new text message alert service to notify people when overdose advisories come into effect in specific areas of the health authority.
“This initiative lets us share important information about drug poisonings quickly with communities across Vancouver Island,” said Keva Glynn, Island Health’s executive lead for mental health and substance use, in a press release. “It’s another way to help people stay safer and informed.”
The health authority stated in the release that the increase in drug poisonings due to B.C.’s toxic supply has made text alerts necessary. The system was developed by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and the Provincial Health Services Authority, in partnership with regional health authorities. Interior Health and Fraser Health introduced text message alerts earlier this year.
“Until people who use substances have access to a regulated drug supply, this is one way people can quickly receive information to reduce drug poisoning events and deaths,” said Dr. Alexis Crabtree, public health physician for substance use and harm reduction with the BCCDC’s public health response team.
Those interested in the alert service can text ‘JOIN’ to 253787, and they will receive notifications about overdose advisories as well as tips for safer drug use, the release noted.
In the first 10 months of 2022, there were at least 1,827 drug-poisoning deaths in B.C., according to the latest available preliminary reporting from the B.C. Coroners Service. That death toll includes 313 overdoses in the Island region, with 133 on the south Island, 126 on the central Island and 54 on the north Island.
For general information about the overdose crisis, how to access support and how to offer help, visit http://stopoverdosebc.ca.