As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)

Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

As B.C. comes off the heels of the fifth anniversary of toxic drug overdoses being declared a public health emergency, Vancouver Island is facing possibly its worst point in the crisis to date.

That’s according to Dr. Sandra Allison, one of the Island’s medical health officers.

“Provincially, we are seeing some of our highest numbers ever. I think across the province, everyone is concerned,” she said during a Thursday video conference with media. “Island Health is experiencing some of their highest numbers ever, so we quite possibly could be the worst point ever.”

Island Health has issued a string of overdose advisories for communities across the Island over the last two weeks. Allison said it was an Island-wide response even though most of the advisories were for mid- and south-Island communities.

READ: Island Health extends overdose advisory for Greater Victoria

Allison said overdose advisories are issued after they review data from their community overdose reporting system, ambulance response and emergency room numbers, overdose prevention services and coroner’s reports.

“This week marks another week of worrisome indicators that we watch for as medical health officers,” Allison said.

When asked if any drugs in particular are causing the recent overdoses, the medical health officer pointed to coroner’s reports that show fentanyl and its analogues (similar drugs) were found in 80 per cent of last year’s illicit toxic drug deaths.

“We are seeing high levels of these analogues of fentanyl, as well as high levels of strong benzodiazepines in the street supply,” she said.

The toxic drug supply, the level of despair in the community and stigma are contributing factors to the increase in overdoses.

“We have to have a better understanding about why people have these behaviors and be accepting of them so people don’t (use substances) in shame and in stigma and all alone – and that’s where they’re dying,” the medical health officer said.

READ: B.C. paramedics responded to a record 138 overdose calls in a single day

Island Health is currently seeing higher numbers of deaths among men and people using substances alone.

“We really just want to remind people that they should not be using alone, that they should know their drug supply and we know that people are using illicit drugs and people use substances for many different reasons,” Allison said. “Medical health officers across the province and across the country are strongly in support of a safe supply because we believe that it’s an unsafe, toxic drug supply that’s killing people.”

READ: Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply as overdose emergency turns 5


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:jake.romphf@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

VictoriaWest Shore

Just Posted

Dr. Omar Ahmad, Island Health department head of emergency and critical care medicine (left to right), Avery Brohman, Island Health executive director, and Joe O’Rourke, Seaspan Victoria Shipyards vice-president and general manager, highlight a recent $2.65 million donation toward the Its Critical campaign. (Victoria Hospitals Foundation)
Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s It’s Critical campaign exceeds $7 million fundraising goal

Funds going towards equipment and a permanent High Acuity Unit

Victoria-born, 16-time Grammy winning musician David Foster penned a letter to the Greater Victoria School District May 7 urging them not to cut music programs. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
David Foster joins fight to save music in Greater Victoria School District

‘Music is the great equalizer’ Foster wrote in a letter to the district

‘Nindanikoobijiganag: We are Star People’ by Mississauga Nishnaabe Lucbanin artist Estrella Whetung. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Victoria beadwork exhibit speaks to evolving, enduring nature of Indigenous art

On Beaded Ground features work from West Coast artists and a Cedar Hill Middle School group

Former Victoria HarbourCat and Chicago White Sox player Andrew Vaughn. (Photo courtesy of Chicago White Sox)
Former Victoria HarbourCat hits first MLB home run, adds another two days later

Andrew Vaughn is the first HarbourCat alumni to hit a homer in the majors

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Most Read