British Columbia

Overdose warnings issued for Vancouver Island communities

Island Health is warning of an increase in overdoses in Victoria, Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley caused by stimulants and opioids.

3 warnings issued for Victoria, Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley since Saturday

Island Health is warning of an increased risk from opioids and stimulants. (Elizabeth Withey/CBC)

Island Health is warning of an increase in overdoses in Victoria, Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley caused by stimulants and opioids.

The health authority issued three similar warnings for those regions in the last four days.

People who use drugs in Victoria, Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley are being advised to take precautions when using drugs: get drugs tested, carry naloxone, use with a friend, stagger use, so one person can get help if the other overdoses and do a "tester."

"Try a little before your regular hit," the warnings advised.

People who use drugs are also encouraged to visit their local overdose prevention sites, download the LifeGuard app, which can alert paramedics of a suspected overdose and talk to their doctor about how to reduce substance use and withdrawal symptoms.

B.C. is in the midst of two public health emergencies: the coronavirus pandemic and an overdose crisis.

There have been worrying signs about overdose deaths in B.C. in recent months after 2019 ended with some signs of progress.

The B.C. Coroners Service said 170 people died of an illicit drug overdose in May 2020, the highest total ever recorded for a single month in provincial history.

Paramedics in B.C. responded to 131 overdose calls on June 26, the most ever recorded in the province in a single day.

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