A former Vancouver paramedic with decades of experience says he sees illicit drugs becoming more toxic and more effort and more overdose-reversal drugs are needed to save people’s lives.
Brian Twaites’ comments come on the seventh anniversary of British Columbia’s declaration of a public health emergency over the overdose crisis.
Twaites, who has worked for 36 years, mostly in the city’s downtown east side, said drug users need to stop using drugs alone and also make sure they’re not using the same drug at the same time so someone can seek help.
On April 14, 2016, British Columbia was the first jurisdiction in Canada to declare a public health emergency after drug overdose deaths reached 474 in 2015.
Toxic drug supplies claimed nearly 2,300 lives in the province last year.
Premier David Eby, Mental Health and Addictions Minister Jennifer Whititeside and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a joint statement that their condolences go out to every B.C. resident who has lost a loved one, family member or friend to this crisis.
“Today, we deepen our resolve to save and improve lives, even as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic makes the availability of medicines more dangerous to the people of our province,” the statement said.
“The historic $1 billion in targeted investments in Budget 2023 will continue this work and will focus on expanding detox, therapy and recovery across the full range of care so people can find and access Important support.”
drug overdose crisis