Fentanyl overdose crisis

The Central Saanich Police Service (CSPS) is hosting a drug awareness forum to educate parents and youth about preventing, recognizing, and addressing addictions on Thursday, May 31.

The forum will take place in the library at Stelly’s Secondary School library at 7 p.m.

Katie Charlton, CSPS executive coordinator, says the forum is part of a push to be more proactive than reactionary in addressing drug-related issues.

“The forum is a good opportunity to empower the parents in our community,” Charlton told Victoria Buzz. “The whole point is about prevention and empowerment.”

The forum will include speakers from the UVIC Centre of Addictions Research, VIHA Discovery Youth and Family Services, the VIHA Addictions Outpatient Treatment Program, and the Vancouver Island Crisis Society.

“It’s a great group of speakers,” Charlton said.

Overdose numbers are continuing to climb

Looking at the ongoing opioid crisis in BC, one can see why an educational initiative like Thursday’s is important.

A BC Coroner’s Service report released earlier in May showed a total of 161 illicit drug overdose deaths across the province in March—a 58% increase over the month before, and a 24% increase over March 2017.

Those numbers brought the four-month total to 391 illicit drug overdose deaths in 2018, and more are sure to come.

While the highest percentage of those deaths were in the 30-39 age group (101), there were five deaths reported in the 10-18 age group.

The story of Elliot Eurchuk, an Oak Bay High School student who died on April 20 due to an unintentional drug overdose, highlights the necessity of educating parents and kids about what to look out for when identifying symptoms of addiction.

“As we know with the fentanyl crisis, drugs are an issue across the province, and it’s no different here,” Charlton said.

“In 2018, so far, [drug-related charges] only represents about 1% of our files, but that’s still enough … We don’t want that to increase.”

For those who would like more information but are unable to attend the event, CSPS will make handouts from each speaking group available online.

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