SURREY, B.C. – Fraser Health has launched a poster ad campaign bolstering its ongoing drive to raise awareness of what it says is the overdose crisis in British Columbia.
The posters will be displayed at transit stops, bars and restaurants, and are aimed at recreational and regular drug users, their families and friends.
One message on the stark, black and white posters says: "If you use drugs: Have a plan. Go slowly. Use with a buddy. Carry naloxone."
The posters also offer instructions for anyone finding an overdose victim, directing them to call 911, start emergency breathing and use naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
Fraser Health says in a news release that it is confident about the effectiveness of the campaign because the posters were tested in focus groups of regular and recreational drug users.
In April, B.C.'s provincial health officer declared a public health emergency linked to the soaring number of opioid overdoses, and the declaration remains in effect.
Dr. Victoria Lee, Fraser Health's chief medical health officer, says the poster campaign is an extension of the health authority's ongoing public awareness campaign, but she says much more has been done to fight overdose deaths.
"We've created new substance-use beds to provide safe and supportive environments for people (who) require additional support on their road to recovery," Lee says in the release.
Over the last 12 to 18 months, Fraser Health has opened 50 new substance-use beds, including a three-bed program for youth and a 12-bed facility for women who are pregnant or have newborns.
A further 97 beds are slated to open by 2017 across the region, which stretches from Burnaby, through Surrey to White Rock and east to Hope.
The announcement of the poster campaign and the update on available substance-use beds comes as Fraser Health prepares to mark International Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 31.
The Canadian Press