Island Health is launching a campaign to encourage people who use needles to return them safely. (Citizen file)

Island Health launches needle-awareness campaign

Encourages support of local needle-recovery efforts

Island Health is launching a campaign to encourage people who use needles to return them safely.

The campaign will remind people to “make it your gig to return your rig” and support local needle-recovery efforts.

The Island, like much of the rest of the province, is grappling with addiction and drug issues that have led to a provincial emergency being called in 2016 to try and deal with the growing crisis.

RELATED STORY: ISLANDERS SHARE PAINFUL EXPERIENCE WITH OPIOID ADDICTION

The ongoing emergency is also seeing drug paraphernalia, particularly used needles, being discarded in parks, alleys and other public places. This has added to the urgency of the situation.

Island Health medical health officer Dr. Shannon Waters said that with discarded needle boxes now spread throughout communities at various locations, and designated places to pick up fresh needles and drop off used ones, efforts are being made to control the situation.

“The vast majority of needles are being returned after use, but not all of them,” the Duncan-based Waters said. “We’re looking at getting the community’s stakeholders together for a collaboration to further target discarded needles. We also want those who use substances to get involved and help keep their communities free of this debris.”

RELATED STORY: OFFICIALS STEPPING UP TO COLLECT GROWING NUMBER OF DISCARDED NEEDLES

Waters said the province’s strategy to deal with B.C.’s drug crisis, which has seen hundreds of deaths over the last few years, has had successes.

She said there have been no deaths at any of the nine overdose prevention sites the province has opened on Vancouver Island since 2016 as part of its response to the opioid overdose emergency.

Waters added that the growing availability of naloxone kits to counteract and prevent overdoses has also had some positive results.

“But there is a stigma around mental health and substance abuse, so many people choose to do their drugs alone, where no one is around to assist them if they overdose,” Waters said.

“We need to collectively work on this problem together as a community.”

A health bulletin released by Island Heath encourages drug users to use a fresh needle every time to reduce the transmission of HIV, hepatitis B and C, and ensure the needles are safely disposed of when used.

More can be learned about harm reduction at https://towardtheheart.com/about

“Sometimes discarded needles are found in public areas,” the release stated.

“Safe disposal of needles saves others from getting hurt accidentally. Fortunately, the risk of being infected by an accidental needle stick is rare.”

The release also offers advice as to how to properly pick up and dispose of discarded needles:

• Don’t try to replace the cap on needles

• Don’t snap, break or bend needles

• Pick up needles with care; use work gloves and tongs if available

• Hold needle point away from you

• Put needle in a metal or hard plastic container with a lid

• Replace cap on container securely and label it

• Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water

• Drop off the sealed container at your local public health unit or at a community drop box

For locations of needle disposal sites around the Island, see this map.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Trekking Vancouver Island’s ‘Secret Coast’

Island pair paddle the most remote corner of our coastline to collect and share its story

EDITORIAL: Islanders need to step up our recycling efforts

As much as 60 per cent of items taken to landfill could be recycled

T.W. Paterson column; ‘We are looking for the hangman, me dear’, part 3

Sally stayed with the canoe as lookout as Quomlet and Johnny disappeared into a copse of trees

Four generations of Vancouver Island logging and mining stories in one show

Nanaimo’s John Gogo will share regional stories, family history and song in his latest project

Cineplex to show free holiday movies to support Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada

Community Day will be on Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m at select theatres

VIDEO: B.C. couple creates three-storey ‘doggie mansion’ for their five pups

Group of seven, who Kylee Ryan has dubbed as the ‘wandering paws,’ have a neat setup in Jade City

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Family of B.C. man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Princeton couple pays for dream vacation with 840,000 grocery store points

It’s easy if you know what you are doing, they say

Chilliwack family’s dog missing after using online pet-sitting service

Frankie the pit bull bolted and hit by a car shortly after drop off through Rover.com

B.C. wildlife experts urge hunters to switch ammo to stop lead poisoning in birds

OWL, in Delta, is currently treating two eagles for lead poisoning

B.C. First Nations drop out of court challenge, sign deals with Trans Mountain

Upper Nicola Band says deal represents a ‘significant step forward’

Most Read