Castlegar group plans addictions awareness outreach

Overdose prevention is goal of Castlegar Fentanyl-Opioid Working Group

An increase in traces of carfentanil found in opioids in the province was linked to a spike in overdose cases in March. File photo

Deb McIntosh admits she won’t be staffing the most popular community information table outside Castlegar Safeway next week.

“Some people may see us and turn away,” the community activist and former city councillor says. “But it’s incumbent to us to understand what’s going on, and as citizens of the community we want to make sure all citizens are taken care of.”

The public information table being set up on Wednesday is about addictions and mental health issues — and where people can get help in the community.

It’s all part of International Overdose Awareness Day. That’s officially on Aug. 31, but the Castlegar Fentanyl-Opioid Working Group is setting their booth up a few days early to maximize the public exposure to the situation.

“The more information we can get out there to give people, the better off we’ll be, because right now people don’t talk about it, because there’s stigma behind it,” she says. “And people are dying because of that stigma. And that’s cruel and unfair, and should not be happening.”

Government statistics indeed show the West Kootenay has been affected by the ongoing opioid crisis. While individual community statistics aren’t published for privacy reasons, Interior Health says the Kootenay-Boundary saw a 90 per cent increase between 2016 and 2017 in overdose deaths. In the entire province, 538 people died in the first six months of this year from drug overdoses — 73 of those in the IH area. Fentanyl was detected in more than 80 per cent of those cases.

SEE: Interior Health warns of spike in carfentanil-tainted opiods

“People are numb to it,” says McIntosh. “They look at the opioid crisis as something that affects bigger communities. But there are absolutely people in Castlegar who have died from it.”

That’s why she’s setting up this table next Wednesday.

“We want to enlighten some people and let them know that they can reach out for help in a variety of different ways,” she says.

Sitting at the table over the course of the day will be outreach workers like McIntosh, front-line responders like paramedics, community health nurses, and even people living with addiction. There’ll be pamphlets and panel boards and contact information for people looking for help.

“The point of the day is to let people know they can reach out to Mental Health, they can reach out to their doctors,” says McIntosh. “They’re not alone.

“Yes, we know the system is somewhat broken, and we understand it can take a long time to get help. But anything we can do from a community perspective to help that along we will do, and we just want people to be armed with information.”

SEE: Use of street drugs in B.C. Interior compared to playing Russian Roulette

McIntosh says in the face of the overwhelming problem, she’ll be happy with any sign of progress.

“I’ll consider it a success if one person comes and reaches out to us, and says, ‘Hey, I need help, and I want to be part of the solution.

“We just want people to know that no matter where you are, or who you are, there’s always someone you can turn to for help.”

 

Naloxone kits are available to reverse opioid overdoses. File photo

Just Posted

Castlegar athletes excel at 55+ Games

Castlegar residents bring home 28 individual medals and six team medals.

Castlegar Rebels split weekend opener

Rebels opened KIJHL regular season with a win over Grand Forks and a loss against Spokane.

Disability employment awareness month: open house and inclusive employer award

Events take place in Nelson and Castlegar this week

Kootenay author to launch memoir at Castlegar library

D.M. Ditson will share intimate memoir about sexual assault, PTSD and recovery.

LETTERS: On trails, environment, fall fair

Castlegar News letters to the editor for this week

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

U.S. student, killed in Bamfield bus crash, remembered as ‘kind, intelligent, talented’

John Geerdes, 18, was one of two UVic students killed in the crash on Friday night

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

Driver of RV in Hosmer collision reported in stable condition

Collision occurred in Hosmer on September 5 and involved a semi truck, an RV and a school bus

Free Tesla 3 offered with purchase of Surrey townhome

Century Group’s offer for Viridian development runs through Oct. 31

Most Read