The Village of Cumberland has partnered with AVI Health and Community Services to offer a free overdose prevention workshop on May 13.
Earlier this month, British Columbia marked the fifth anniversary of its declaration of a public health emergency over the opioid crisis, yet the crisis shows no signs of abating. More than 7,000 people have died in the province since 2016, and last year’s total of 1,724 lives lost was the worst on record.
The free workshop will cover topics such as how to recognize an overdose (both opioid and stimulant), proper disposal of sharps and hands-on Naloxone training, the most effective way to save a life in the case of an opioid overdose. All participants will learn the broad strokes of harm reduction principles and will receive a free Naloxone kit for their home or workplace.
“BC accounts for one third of Canada’s opioid overdoses,” says Kayla Funk, the Health Promotion Educator with AVI Health and Community Services in Courtenay. “In the first two months of 2021 alone, more than 300 people died from drug overdose or drug toxicity in BC, and the Comox Valley is not exempt from that heartbreak and devastation.”
Funk notes that, contrary to some misperceptions, overdose can happen to anyone who uses, not just those with substance use disorders.
“It’s the weekend partier, it’s the person using prescription opioids for their chronic pain and it’s the individual who’s using for the first time or the thousandth time. Fentanyl and its analogues have been found in every drug, from heroin and crystal meth to cocaine and pressed pills, and the drug supply is becoming more and more toxic. Education is crucial for prevention, and knowing how to use Naloxone could prevent your friend, your sibling or your colleague from becoming another life lost to the opioid crisis.”
On April 12, Cumberland council unanimously passed a resolution calling on the federal government to treat the drug overdose and toxicity crisis as a public health emergency.
“Workshops like these are so valuable because, whether we like it or not, drugs are in our community and people are using them,” says Cumberland Mayor Leslie Baird. “We don’t always know when we’re going to be placed in a position in which we have the power to save a life. What we do know is that, by the time you’re in that situation, it’s too late to learn what to do.
The overdose prevention workshop is being held at the Cumberland Cultural Centre on Thursday, May 13 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Though the workshop is free, participants must register in advance with Cumberland Recreation. Create an ActiveNet account at Cumberland.ca/recprograms and search course code “6158”or search “overdose to find the program. You can also call Cumberland Recreation for assistance at 250-336-2231 .