The average number of overdoses in Greater Victoria has doubled in the past week, prompting a public alert from Island Health. (Black Press Media file photo)

Island Health issues overdose alert

Greater Victoria overdose numbers double

A spike in the number of overdoses in Greater Victoria has prompted an alert from Island Health, cautioning the public and drug users about a stronger supply of drugs on the Island.

According to Dr. Dee Hoyana, VIHA medical health officer, there are on average four overdoses a week that are accounted for in Greater Victoria. That number has doubled in the past week.

READ ALSO: Help is here: Overdose Prevention Guide shares what you need to know

“This is our usual process when we notice overdose rates going up and we just want to caution people to be safe and prevent these kinds of things from happening,” she said, adding the number of overdoses is not the same as deaths caused by overdoses.

The decision to put out a public announcement is based on the number of overdoses occurring at overdose prevention sites, supervised consumption sites, ambulance information and people presenting signs at the hospital — although those number’s aren’t exact because people also use drugs at home or don’t report their overdoses.

READ ALSO: Victoria crowd rallies for action on overdose crisis

Island Health tested some drugs and found potent substances in them such as carfentanil but Hoyana says they can’t be certain this is the exact drug causing the spike in overdoses. Island Health is recommending those using drugs to test their substances before using or to do a small amount of the drugs prior to using the full amounts to see the reaction. Hoyana also stresses the importance of not using alone.

“One of the highest risks of people dying from an overdose is if they’re alone and no one’s around to help them,” she said, adding people can go to supervised consumption sites to use.

For members of the public, Island Health is recommending carrying Naloxone to help in the case of coming across someone who has overdosed and to be aware of the signs of an overdose. For more information on what to do if someone is overdosing visit bit.ly/2DFHaJa.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

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