British Columbia

B.C. harm reduction organization hopes to improve nightlife safety in Victoria

Karmik is coming to Victoria to try and help make recreational drug use in the festival and concert scene safer.

The volunteer run organization Karmik opens chapter in B.C. capital

Karmik offers drug testing, naloxone training and other education. At every event they attend they bring a drug chart to show what combinations are safe and unsafe. (Karmik/Facebook)

A new harm reduction service is coming to Victoria focused on making recreational drug use in the nightlife, festival and concert scene safer.

Vancouver-based organization, Karmik, is expanding its reach with a new chapter in Victoria.

It offers peer support at events, drug checking services, education and training in the hopes of reducing stigma around drug use to prevent overdose deaths.

"We don't condemn or condone drug use in any way shape or form, we just want to support not punish," Ali Cecchetto, outreach director for Karmik Victoria, told All Points West guest host Khalil Akhtar.

The organization began in 2014 as a response to the increasing rates of overdose deaths in Vancouver.

With the fentanyl crisis increasing in severity in 2017, Cecchetto said the need for support, drug checking and naloxone training is more important than ever.

"The second highest overdose deaths was from cocaine," Cecchetto said in reference to the numbers recently released by the B.C. Coroners Service placing the death toll at over 1,400.

"That gives you an idea of it's not just the opiates, it's becoming very common in the party drugs as well."

In a night club setting, she said the organization sets up a table where it can offer drug checking, a drug chart that outlines the risk of mixing substances, other educational materials, plus opioid antidotes.

"We'd have a roaming team to go out, two people who would go out and walk around the dance floor and maybe give out some pins and supplies… people will see the Karmik banner and Karmik shirts and they'll… know that we're good people to turn to if they need any help there," she said.

Karmik set up an information booth at Vancouver's Pride festival in 2017 to offer education on a number of harm reduction topics like consent, sexual health, drug checking, naloxone training and more. (Karmik/Facebook)

Karmik is looking for volunteers to help expand its presence in the festival and nightlife communities and offers free training to anyone interested.

To hear the full interview listen to media below:

With files from All Points West