Youth face barriers to overdose harm reduction, say front-line workers

published on February 23, 2024 by Alexandra Mehl in Yahoo News Canada

With the toxic drug crisis as the leading cause of death for British Columbians aged 10 though 59, nearly 170 youth, aged 18 and under, have lost their lives since 2017. According to experts, not enough research and monitoring has been done to assess the impacts of the crisis on young people, who also face barriers when accessing harm reduction services.

“Young people do use drugs,” said Kora DeBeck, an associate professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Public Policy, noting that for young people it is a time of experimentation. “Unfortunately, in this context of a toxic drug supply, use can be so much more risky than it was 10 years ago.”

Between Jan. 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2022, the province saw 142 deaths from illicit drugs among minors, equal to 24 fatalities per year, according to a report released by the BC Coroners Service. With unregulated and toxic drugs as the leading cause of death, fentanyl or its analogues were detected in 78 per cent of the cases…

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