Interior Health has launched a new website with the hope of engaging people who use drugs alone, their friends and families and supporters.
It’s called Usesafe and provides people with options to take a survey, be interviewed by phone or meet in-person.
Interior Health says it hopes to learn from those who use drugs alone, so it can better understand potential actions people might consider to reduce the risk of overdose.
“When people use alone they increase their risk of a fatal overdose,” says Dr. Silvina Mema, Interior Health Medical Officer and project lead. “We want to work with people who use alone so we can find ways of reducing the risk. We’ve come a long way in the last couple of years, but there is a still lot to learn to make a difference. We are looking to individuals who could provide their own lived experience; we need their voice to make real change.”
“We know that more than 60 per cent of overdose deaths, in recent months, took place in private residences,” says Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy. “We want to reduce the risk, and work collaboratively and quickly to develop meaningful solutions that will support others that are using alone and ultimately save lives.”
Interior Health say through this engagement project, people like Jason and Arlene are bringing their voices and perspective to the opioid crisis that is playing out in communities throughout the Interior Health region.
“My little brother died of an overdose,” says Jason Wills. “He was an amazing brother, son and friend. We loved him and his drug use killed him. I’m speaking out because I don’t want other parents and families to go through what we have gone through. For me, it’s not about a message of “don’t do drugs”, it’s a message about staying alive, being safer with your use and knowing there are supports available.”
“I lost my son to a Fentanyl related overdose three years ago,” says Arlene. “Losing a child is unimaginable and devastating, the deep loss and pain is ever present. He was a charismatic, funny, hardworking man. He was a real person. He wasn’t a stereotype, nor was he a metaphor of his substance use-it was just a piece of him. It didn’t define his whole. My message is simple. Let’s work together to end this destructive crisis, this cycle of overdose and death. We can’t change people, but we can ask those who use to consider arming themselves with more protection. I urge people who use to review and employ the resources on the Use Safe site. Prevention is key.”
Those who are interviewed in-person will receive an honorarium. No personal information is being asked or collected, and all interviews are confidential.
The input collected through this engagement project will help inform an updated strategy on harm reduction measures Interior Health can implement in the short and medium term.
To participate, people can click here