This week marks the fifth anniversary of the Opioid Overdose Crisis being declared a Public Health Emergency in B.C. Between 2016 – 2020, it is estimated that 19,355 overdose deaths occurred in Canada, with 77% being males ages 20-49. In B.C., there have been 1,243 overdose deaths from January – September 2020 alone, an increase of 120% from the same time period in 2019. Delta media reports show that 2020 was the worst year on record for deaths caused by illicit drugs.
Most of these overdose deaths are happening in private residences where people are using drugs in isolation and sadly, this has been compounded by COVID-19. Unfortunately, stigma continues to play a big part in preventing people from asking for help. What makes this crisis even more heartbreaking is that these deaths are preventable.
“As with all communities across Canada, Delta is not immune to this issue. Here in our own community people use illicit substances,” said Joanna Angelidis, Director Learning Services – Inclusive Learning. “Until the stigma associated with substance use and addiction ends, our loved ones will continue to be lost to overdose. It is our collective responsibility to be compassionate and non-judgemental, and to provide access to mental health and addiction services. Ending the stigma associated with substance use and addiction will mean that all members of our community, including students and their families, will reach out and ask for help when they need it.”
Recently, the School District partnered with the City of Delta and Delta Police Department to develop a campaign around substance use and addiction. The City’s End the Stigma campaign uses various channels such as social media and bus shelter advertising to share the message substance use is a reality in our communities, neighbourhoods and families. The aim is to help end the stigma around substance use to make it easier for people to ask for help.
Given the ever-increasing number of overdose deaths, the Delta School District is thrilled to partner with the City and the Delta Police Department on this campaign, and to participate in a community-wide commitment to the removal of stigma in a thoughtful and compassionate approach to substance use and addiction. Delta schools provide students and their parents with opportunities to learn more about mental wellness, increasing connection and substance use and addiction. To learn more about upcoming parent and community information events, please visit the district’s website.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug (substance) use, please see the following links for resources in Delta.