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
|Fort Nelson||Fort Nelson Aboriginal Friendship Society
Address: 5012 49th Ave.
Address: 5420 50th Ave.
|Fort St. John||Fort St John Women’s Resource Center
Address: 10051 100 Ave.
|Hazelton||Hazelton Health Center
Address: 2510 HWY 62
|Houston||Houston Health Center
Address: 3202 14 Street
|Masset||Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital and Health Centre
Address: 2520 Harrison Ave
|Prince George||Prince George Aids Prevention Program
Address: 1108 3rd Ave.
|Queen Charlotte City||Haida Gwaii Hospital and Health Center
Address: 3209 Oceanview Dr.
|Quesnel||Quesnel CSUN peer organization
Address: #3 445 Anderson Dr.
|Smithers||Smithers Positive Living North
Address: 3862 Broadway Ave.
Specialized Mental Health and Substance Use Outreach Team
3862 Broadway Ave.
|Terrace||Terrace Health Unit
Address: 3412 Kalum Street
Please refer to the following resources by community who can assist you:
- Chetwynd Primary Health
- Dawson Creek Mental Health and Addictions
- Dease Lake Health Centre
- Fort Nelson Health Unit
Fort St. James:
- Fort St. James Health Centre
Fort St. John:
- Fort St. John Specialized Service
- Houston Health Centre
- Mackenzie and District Hospital and Health Centre
- Valemount Health Clinic
- Central Interior Native Health Society
- Opioid Substitution Treatment Program
- Needle Exchange OAT Clinic
- Prince Rupert Community Health
- Westside Mental Health and Addictions
- Smithers Healthy Living Centre
- Terrace Community Health
- Valemount Health Clinic
- Vanderhoof Community Services
- Family and caregiver resources (BC Centre on Substance Use)
- Family support (Moms Stop the Harm)
- Child and youth mental health and substance use resources for families (PDF) - Northern Health
- Take Home Naloxone / Harm Reduction Supplies Locator
- If you cannot find a site in the locator, contact your local health unit
- Children and youth substance use - BC Children’s Hospital - Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre
- A parent's guide to understanding opioid use by youth (PDF) - Drug Free Kids Canada
- Get support - Foundry BC
- COVID-19 mental health and substance use resources (PDF) - Northern Health
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.
- BCCSU training opportunities - BC Centre on Substance Use
- NH stigma reduction modules - Northern Health Learning Hub
- Information for professionals - Toward the Heart
Information from other organizations
- Overdose prevention and harm reduction: get informed - FNHA
- Overdose response - BCCDC
- BC Centre on substance use - BCCSU
- Overdose prevention and response in BC - BC Govt
- Stop overdose - BC Govt
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