International Overdose Awareness day is a global event held on August 31 every year. The goal of the event is to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of drug addiction and drug-related deaths.
On Monday, August 31, ANKORS (AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society) held a march, protest and awareness event in Cranbrook. The march went from the Cranbrook ANKORS location to City Hall, where a peaceful protest was held. The march then continued on to Rotary Park where the remainder of the event took place.
Marchers could be heard chanting things such as, “end the stigma”, “naloxone saved my life”, “no more drug war”, “decriminalize”, “harm reduction saves lives” and “supply or we will continue to die”.
ANKORS has a variety of services including harm reduction, support and advocacy, and prevention and education. They have several locations in the East and West Kootenay and host a number of awareness events every year.
In the first seven months of this year, more than 900 people have died from an overdose in B.C. 175 of those deaths happened in July alone. 11 overdose deaths have been reported in the East Kootenay this year, according to the group at the Overdose Awareness March.
As Black Press reported at the end of August, July marked the third month in a row where overdose deaths topped 170 and was down just two from a record-breaking month in May, when 177 people died. Many of these deaths are due to a highly toxic supply of drugs and high concentrations of fentanyl.
Drug overdoses have killed nearly 6,000 people in B.C. The number of people dying of overdoses in the province continues to surpass deaths due to homicides, motor vehicle incidents, suicides and COVID-19 combined, Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said in August.
Some ways to prevent overdose include never using alone and carrying a naloxone kit. Naloxone is a medication that can quickly reverse the effects of an overdose from opioids.
Kits are available for free locally at ANKORS, pharmacies and clinics. ANKORS also has Naloxone training, as well as drug checking programs.
For more information, head over to the ANKORS website or contact them directly at 250-426-3383.
With files from Katya Slepian.
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