Statement from MLA Jane Thornthwaite on International Overdose Awareness Day

Andrew Wilkinson at the Terrace Chamber of Commerce's event in Terrace June 5, 2018. Photography by John Lehmann

NORTH VANCOUVER (August 31, 2019) – BC Liberal Mental Health and Addictions Critic Jane Thornthwaite has released the following statement on International Overdose Awareness Day:

“Today we pause to remember the lives lost as the result of the overdose crisis as we pledge to continue the fight against the stigma of addiction.”

“It is encouraging to see the number of overdose deaths trending downwards in 2019; however, the overdose rate is still too high. Our harm reduction approaches like overdose prevention sites and greater distribution of naloxone kits are saving lives, but they are not enough to break the cycle of addiction. In order to prevent overdoses and enact real change, we must address the roots of addiction, such as mental health issues, trauma and abuse.

“I have long advocated for a full continuum of care to stop the overdose crisis in British Columbia. This starts with prevention in schools, expansion and greater accessibility of detox and treatment, harm reduction to keep people alive, comprehensive mental health support and publicly funded recovery options, including abstinence-based care. Equally, we must ensure residential facilities are properly licensed and that standards are enforced. For those who are ready, especially youth, treatment and recovery can be the life-saving intervention they need. Having beds available and publicly funded is critical to ensuring more have access to recovery.

“I once again plead with the current government to implement the Safe Care Act. This legislation would ensure youth can be stabilized and treated for their addictions before they are discharged, and parents can be kept informed of their child’s medical condition. Overcoming the overdose crisis will take much more than a one-size-fits-all approach. Only when a continuum of care is established can we hope to see a substantial difference to a crisis that continues to claim lives every day.”

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