Hundreds attend vigil in Victoria to mark International Overdose Awareness Day

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Hundreds gathered in Victoria to bring attention to a province-wide public health emergency on International Overdose Awareness Day.

A candlelight vigil was held in Centennial Square to honour and remember those who have lost their lives to the overdose crisis.

Almost 2,000 people have died from illicit-drug deaths in the province since 2016.

Two-hundred and eighty three of those deaths have been on Vancouver Island.

Organizers say the epidemic is only getting worse and more needs to be done to save lives.

“They are people who are addicted and need to take the drugs that they are addicted to,” said Leslie McBain with the B.C. Centre on Substance Use.

“They can’t just stop and because they can’t get a clean, regulated drug they take what’s available so that’s why we’re losing so many people.”

McBain said continued public awareness and education is the key to helping reduce the stigma of those who struggle with the health challenge.

Vigil attendees could also take part in naloxone kit training at the event.

Naloxone is a medication that can reverse the effects of an overdose from opioids.

“We need to get more naloxone kits out there so that we can save lives,” said Minister for Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy, who attended the event. “We need to have more people trained to be able to administer them.”

Aug. 31 also marks 139 days since the province declared a public health emergency over the rate of overdose and opioid deaths in B.C.

 

Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

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