Harm reduction and the overdose crisis in BC

published on March 18, 2022 by Maya Beninteso in The Peak

For the past two years, BC has been plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in thousands of deaths. However, there are numbers we don’t see often: those of overdose-related deaths.

In a faculty lecture hosted by SFU Public Square, Harm Reduction in an Unprecedented Overdose Crisis, Dr. Kanna Hayashi said we are in one of the worst public health crises ever.

Dr. Hayashi said overdose deaths have been the leading cause of unnatural death since 2016. In April 2016, the overdose crisis in BC was officially recognized for what it is: a public health emergency. A whopping 993 people died due to a drug overdose that year, but the declaration did not stop the crisis from escalating. Nearly six years later, things have only gotten worse. In 2021, a suspected 2,224 people died due to a drug overdose, more than double the number of people who died in 2016. Dr. Hayashi broke down that figure and added that, in 2021, six people died every day. It’s important to remember these numbers are not mere figures, they are people. Despite public health officials declaring the overdose crisis an emergency, they have yet to treat it as such…

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