Overdose prevention

Overdose emergency

In April 2016, BC’s Provincial Health Officer declared a public health emergency due to the rising number of drug overdose deaths in BC. Illicit drug overdose deaths in BC (PDF) have risen from roughly 200/year in 2010, to over 1700/year in 2020.

This has been primarily driven by the introduction of fentanyl, and fentanyl analogues, into the illicit drug supply. Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic opioid that has largely replaced heroin, because it is much cheaper to produce. Its high potency, combined with substandard processing on the black market, make dosing highly unpredictable.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the overdose emergency. COVID-19 restrictions have further disrupted the black market drug supply, leading to even more unpredictability for consumers, while physical distancing recommendations and concerns about COVID-19 infection have led some people who use drugs to feel less safe seeking health services or peer support.

This page provides key information for people who use drugs, families, health care workers, and community partners regarding substance use, overdose recognition and response, harm reduction and treatment services, and other related topics.

Recognize and respond to an overdose

Know the signs

Know the signs for overdose

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Know the Response: SAVE ME Steps

Know the Response: SAVE ME Steps

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Services:

Addiction treatment
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Drug checking services (Fentanyl)
Community Site address
Fort Nelson Fort Nelson Aboriginal Friendship Society
Address: 5012 - 49th Ave.
Phone: 250-774-2993

Riggs Safety
Address: 5420-50th Ave.
Phone: 250-321-3267
Fort St. John Fort St John Women’s Resource Center
Address: 10051 100 Ave.
Phone: 250-787-1121
Hazelton Hazelton Health Center
Address: 2510 HWY 62
Phone: 250-842-4640
Houston Houston Health Center
Address: 3202 14 Street
Phone: 250-845-2294
Masset Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital and Health Centre
Address: 2520 Harrison Ave
Phone: 250-626-4700
Prince George Prince George Aids Prevention Program
Address: 1108 3rd Ave.
Phone: 250-564-1727
Queen Charlotte City Haida Gwaii Hospital and Health Center
Address: 3209 Oceanview Dr.
Phone: 250-559-4900
Quesnel Quesnel CSUN peer organization
Address: #3 - 445 Anderson Dr.
Phone: 250-991-0091
Smithers Smithers Positive Living North
Address: 3862 Broadway Ave.
Phone: 250-877-0042

Specialized Mental Health and Substance Use Outreach Team
3862 Broadway Ave.
Phone: 250-643-7456
Terrace Terrace Health Unit
Address: 3412 Kalum Street
Phone: 250-631-4200
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Opioid Agonist Therapy (OAT)

Please refer to the following resources by community who can assist you:

Chetwynd:

Dawson Creek:

  • Dawson Creek Mental Health and Addictions
    Phone: 250-719-6525

Dease Lake:

Fort Nelson:

Fort St. James:

Fort St. John:

  • Fort St. John Mental Health and Substance Use
    Phone: 250-263-6080

Houston:

Mackenzie:

  • Mackenzie and District Hospital and Health Centre
    Phone: 250-997-4342

Mcbride:

Prince George:

Prince Rupert:

Quesnel:

Smithers:

Terrace:

Valemount:

Vanderhoof:

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Overdose Prevention Services (OPS)
  • Prince George Needle Exchange
    Address: 1108 3rd Avenue, Prince George, BC, V2L 3E5
    Phone: 250 564-1727
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Supports for families and loved ones
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Take home
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Youth services
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Safer substance use

Follow these tips to reduce your risk of overdose:

  • Don't use alone
  • Start with a small amount
  • Mixing substances, including alcohol, increases risk of overdose
  • Use where help is easily available (e.g. around other people)
  • Use less. If you took a break, were in detox/treatment or jail, or are new to use, your tolerance is lower
  • If you have ever experienced an overdose, this may increase your risk to overdose again
  • Make a plan/know how to respond in case of an overdose
  • Get the Lifeguard APP (BC Govt)

Information for health professionals

Health professionals and service providers have a vital role in overdose prevention and response. This area contains links to trusted resources and information to help those working to save lives and reduce harms.

Stigma reduction

Information from other organizations

Peer support resources

The involvement of people with lived or living experience of drug use (Peers) is a critical component of effective overdose prevention work. A network has been established to support connection between Peers in the North, and to enable engagement with health care service providers. For more information, please contact Peer.Network@northernhealth.ca

Community corner