Interior Health launches Don’t Use Alone campaign

The announcement was made in Kelowna Thursday

Interior Health has launched a new website they hope will curb the number of overdose deaths among those who are using drugs alone.

The website anonymously provides people with options to take a survey, be interviewed by phone or meet in-person and the aim is to learn from those who use drugs alone, so Interior Health can better understand potential actions people might consider to reduce the risk of overdose.

“My little brother died of an overdose,” said Jason Wills, at a press conference held Thursday. “He was an amazing brother, son and friend. We loved him and his drug use killed him. I’m speaking out because I don’t want other parents and families to go through what we have gone through. For me, it’s not about a message of ‘don’t do drugs,’ it’s a message about staying alive, being safer with your use and knowing there are supports available.”

Wills said that his brother Dustin, age 30, didn’t tell his family that he was a drug user, and an autopsy indicated that he only had fentanyl and caffeine in his system. So, it’s unclear whether he was a regular user to begin with.

He’s not sure why he didn’t share the information, but Dr. Silvina Mema said that the stigma of being a drug user is something that’s difficult to overcome.

The anonymity of this project is expected to help get some insights on how to overcome that barrier.

“When people use alone they increase their risk of a fatal overdose,” said Mema, Interior Health medical officer and project lead. “We want to work with people who use alone so we can find ways of reducing the risk. We’ve come a long way in the last couple of years, but there is a still lot to learn to make a difference. We are looking to individuals who could provide their own lived experience; we need their voice to make real change.”

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