Province extends drug toxicity awareness campaign

Sheila Malcolmson, minister of mental health and addictions, speaks to media in February 2021, following the release of the BC Coroners Service’s report on illicit drug toxicity deaths for 2020. || B.C. government photo
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B.C. has extended its Toxic Drugs Are Circulating awareness campaign into the fall to provide post-secondary students with resources to make informed decisions, according to a media release from the provincial government.

The campaign points to harm-reduction resources, including how to recognize the signs of an overdose, respond using naloxone, download the Lifeguard App and access emergency contacts.

“With students coming back together after a long, hard time apart, many are excited to socialize and celebrate. If that involves drugs, be sure to buddy up and carry naloxone at all times, know the risks and how to stay safer,” said Sheila Malcolmson, minister of mental health and addictions.

Over 1,000 lives were lost to suspected illicit drug toxicity in B.C. between January and June 2021, according to a recent BC Coroners Service report.

The campaign ran province-wide in August and was extended to reach post-secondary students in the fall. The province said it has also taken measures including:

-expanding access to naloxone;

-launching Here2Talk, a free and confidential 24/7 mental health counselling and referral service for all B.C. post-secondary students; and

-expanding Foundry centres and Foundry Virtual to help youth up to the age of 24 access supports like counselling, peer support, primary care and family support.

“The Toxic Drugs are Circulating campaign meets students where they’re at and gives them tools to help stay safe,” said Anne Kang, minister of advanced education and skills training. “As students return to campus and social activities, we want to make sure they are safe, informed and have access to the information and supports they need.”  

To ensure the campaign reaches post-secondary students, the province said it is working with colleges, universities and health providers to spread the campaign’s messages on campus, social media and in popular social spaces where students gather.

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