Douglas Todd: Are B.C. health officials waking to gender factor in the opioid crisis?

published on February 17, 2018 by Douglas Todd in Vancouver Sun

Are public health officials finally facing up to the fact that the overdose epidemic in Canada and the U.S. is mostly devastating boys and men?

There are small signs some health officials are slowly, awkwardly, hesitatingly beginning to acknowledge the obvious: The overdose crisis is predominantly an issue of men’s health.

Public officials have much denial to make up for. It was just a year ago that former B.C. Liberal health minister Terry Lake pulled out the public relations stops to open a 38-bed Vancouver facility for women to overcome substance abuse. Months before an election, Lake also announced an overdose prevention site exclusively for females.

Lake’s many media splashes never made a nod to the overdose plight of boys and men — despite males accounting for four in five overdose fatalities across the country; the portion recently hitting 85 per cent of the almost 1,000 deaths in B.C. in just one year.

Despite his questionable efforts dealing with the scourge of fentanyl deaths, Lake was given the annual “Hero” award by the Canadian Public Health Association. Yet when Lake left office, he sent a decidedly mixed message on drug use by becoming vice-president of a “luxury” medical marijuana company.

View the full article