The District of Lake Country saw its number of overdose calls double in 2020 over the previous year. (Black Press file photo)

The District of Lake Country saw its number of overdose calls double in 2020 over the previous year. (Black Press file photo)

EDITORIAL: Addressing our ongoing opioid crisis

It must not become British Columbia’s forgotten health crisis…

The opioid crisis continues to plague British Columbia.

While COVID-19 has dominated the news since the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic a year ago (March 11, 2020), deaths from opioid overdoses are taking a toll throughout the province.

In 2020, there were 1,716 deaths from illicit drug overdoses, by far the highest number in British Columbia’s history. This year, in January alone, there were 165 overdose deaths in the province.

The number of overdose deaths in B.C. is significantly more than the nearly 1,400 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic. This comparison should not downplay the pandemic, which is a serious concern for our province, our country and our world.

Rather, it is important to remember and highlight the ongoing opioid crisis in this province. Illicit drug use, addiction and drug-related deaths are tragically serious problems.

Overdose deaths are not limited to large urban areas, but are also happening in smaller communities in this province.

Substance abuse and opioid addiction are problems in places like Vancouver, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack, but also in Agassiz and Hope.

Here on the Central Island, drug toxicity deaths increased by more than 50 percent last year.

The numbers of overdose deaths are not just statistics. They represent people who lost their lives as a result of overdoses, and they are mourned by family, friends, coworkers and close acquaintances. In addition to the deaths, there have also been numerous overdose cases which have resulted in hospitalization.

Controlling and reversing this growing problem of opioid addiction and deaths is a difficult and expensive undertaking, and it will require an ongoing effort. This is a problem that will not go away on its own.

The opioid crisis is continuing to take a toll throughout this province, and it continues to affect all of us, directly or indirectly. It must not become British Columbia’s forgotten health crisis.

– Black Press Media

opioid crisis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A piece of artwork from Port Alberni artist Jim Sears. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Port Alberni artist shares watercolour images of the coast

Rollin Art Centre holding a garden clean-up on April 18

The Alberni Golf Club is located on Cherry Creek Road. FILE PHOTO
ALBERNI GOLF: Parhar picks up win in Partner with a Pro

Next Sunday, April 18 is a two man best ball

Two of the heritage buildings from McLean Mill National Historic Site that have been restored at the Port Alberni tourist attraction. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
McLean Mill application breaks new ground for ALC

Process just another ‘misstep’ by city, says critic

Coulson Aviation’s newest Chinook helicopter, N43CU, takes to the air above the Alberni Valley Regional Airport following a complete airframe conversion into a helitanker, April 8, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY BILL MCLEOD)
Coulson Aviation’s newest helitanker takes flight

Converted Chinook helitanker off to U.S. for new paint job

Dave Cusson, Community Policing Manager with the City of Port Alberni, offers some tips for pedestrian safety in a Community Policing video. (SCREENSHOT)
City of Port Alberni on way to dubious pedestrian safety record

Pedestrian crashes a growing concern in Port Alberni

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including, YVR and land crossings should ‘not be left behind’

(Amandalina Letterio - Capital News)
Kelowna demonstrators show support for Vancouver Island logging activists

Two Kelowna men stood atop a pedestrian bridge on Harvey Avenue to raise awareness about old-growth forests

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read