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Home News It's here, The Opioid Crisis in Fort St. John

It’s here, The Opioid Crisis in Fort St. John

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Recently the Fort St. John Community Action Team (CAT) released their Public Service Announcement (PSA) ‘Closer to home’ and film, ‘It’s here, The Opioid Crisis in Fort St. John’ in collaboration with Eagle Vision Video Productions Ltd.

The ‘Close to Home’ PSA is a 39-second commercial created to grab viewers attention and make you think about people that might be in your life that are at risk. The hope is that the PSA will start a conversation as it shows opioid overdose can happen to anyone.

The short film, ‘It’s here, the Opioid Crisis in Fort St. John’, includes many interviews of partners within the City of FSJ, which provides more clarity on the landscape of the opioid crisis in FSJ, the work that has been completed to support the community and how shame needs to be removed from the situation to help offer support to people seeking help.

CAT collectively applied for and received funding from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions through the Community Action Initiative a year ago which helped fund the two audiovisual projects that are a couple of tools used by the action team to help educate the community.

The team originally came together in response to the opioid crisis and addiction challenges that are happening in the community, and the group wants to show that we as a community are together in this. By providing information, resources, information and community events to show people that they are not alone and there is help.

Healthy FSJ is the vehicle CAT uses for dialogue, education and awareness through their website, presentations to SD 60 classrooms, presentations to Treaty 8 First Nations communities, pop up booths and dialogue sessions, the Overdose Awareness week which saw people being trained in naloxone and work with the Peer group (those with lived experience) called the Northern Sun Helpers are ways in which CAT uses their voice in the community.

CAT, comprised of over 70 members represents over 30 organizations that have spent the past year educating the community through awareness of the opioid challenges in the community, reducing stigma, and elevating the voices of Peers (people with living or lived experience with opioid use or addiction).

With the partnerships that exist in the group and working with the Peers to identify community-based solutions, exploring harm reduction, treatment and aftercare services in Fort St. John, helps to strengthen partnerships and relationships in the community as the willingness and dedication of each member to contribute in the ways that they and their organization can have been what makes the CAT group successful.

To view Healthy FSJ; CLICK HERE

To view Healthy FSJ FB Page; CLICK HERE 

To view Community Action Team FB Group; CLICK HERE 

Responding to an overdose or getting help if you or someone you know is struggling with substance use/addiction;

  • Have a naloxone kit on you and learn how to use it. Learn CPR as well.
  • If you are a drug user, don’t use alone. Have a person there who can administer naloxone and call 9-1-1 should an overdose occur.
  • Get your drugs tested for fentanyl. There is an anonymous testing service provided by the Women’s Resource Society, no questions asked. You do not need to provide ID or any personal information.
  • There are several places you can access free naloxone kits and other harm reduction supplies as well as treatment and social stabilization support (e.g. counselling). Go to http://www.healthyfsj.ca/#resources for all of the information to access these resources.

More information about opioids;

Opioids are drugs with pain relieving properties that are used primarily to treat pain.

Opioids can also induce euphoria (feeling high), which gives them the potential to be used improperly.

Opioids can be prescribed medications:

  • codeine
  • fentanyl
  • morphine
  • oxycodone
  • hydromorphone
  • medical heroin

Opioids can also be produced or obtained illegally

About fentanyl

Fentanyl is a very potent opioid pain reliever. It is generally used in a hospital setting, and can also be prescribed by a doctor to help control severe pain. For medical purposes, it can be given in the form of:

  • skin patches
  • injections
  • tablets

Fentanyl can enter into the Canadian illegal drug market in three ways:

  • theft of pharmaceutical fentanyl products (mainly skin patches)
  • illegal import from other countries
  • production by illegal clandestine laboratories in Canada

Canada’s illegal drug supply is being contaminated with illegal fentanyl and other fentanyl-like drugs (e.g. carfentanil). You can’t see, taste or smell fentanyl and a few grains can be enough to kill you. Fentanyl is a cheap way for drug dealers to make street drugs more powerful and it is causing high rates of overdoses and overdose deaths.

Illegal drugs may contain unknown amounts of fentanyl. Drug dealers who make fake pills may not know or control carefully how much fentanyl goes into each pill. As well, sometimes drugs may accidentally contain fentanyl when drug dealers use surfaces and equipment contaminated with fentanyl.

What makes fentanyl so dangerous?

Fentanyl is a dangerous drug because:

  • it is 20 to 40 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, which makes the risk of accidental overdose very high
  • a very small amount (about the size of a few grains of salt) of pure fentanyl is enough to kill the average adult
  • it is odourless and tasteless, so you may not even know you are taking it
  • it can be mixed with other drugs such as heroin and cocaine and is also being found in counterfeit pills that are made to look like prescription opioids

Are you a first responder, or have the possibility of coming into contact with fentanyl at work? Protect yourself. See: What you need to know about fentanyl exposure

Public Health Emergency

This recent epidemic is characterized by the increasing proportion of deaths in which illicit fentanyl – an opioid substance – has been detected. Fentanyl was detected in 5% of illicit drug deaths in 2012 and this has increased annually reaching 60% in 2016.

On April 14, 2016, Dr. Perry Kendall, Provincial Medical Health Officer declared a public health emergency under the Public Health Act in response to increasing overdoses and overdose deaths in our province. Details are available in the Ministry of Health News Release (https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2016HLTH0026-000568).

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