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Island Health targets male drug users; disproportionate group of 2019 overdose deaths

The four-week information campaign aims to curb isolated and untested drug use
A naloxone kit. Island Health is targetting middle-aged men with a new information campaign to limit untested, isolated overdose. (Black Press file photo)

To raise awareness of their services for safe drug use, Island Health has created a campaign targeting male Vancouver Island drug users.

The majority of Island Health’s 327 preventable overdose deaths in 2021 were among men aged 30 to 59, according to the health authority’s news release.

“These are our fathers, brothers, sons and friends,” said Dr. Sandra Allison, an Island Health medical health officer. “Men who use alone continue to be at the greatest risk from toxic drug poisonings. We want them to know that there are services available that can help them stay safer, stay alive and connect them with whatever support they may need.”

The campaign focuses on harm reduction services that ensure men are accompanied while using substances. Most drug poisoning deaths occur in private residences where there’s almost no opportunity to seek help in the event of an overdose.

“When using alone, free and confidential options that connect you to support and response services include the Lifeguard app (, Brave app ( and National Overdose Response Service hotline (1-888-688 NORS [6677]),” the release said. The apps alert friends or emergency services to potential overdose following the user’s delay while using the app.

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Other practices promoted in the authority’s campaign include testing drugs first and using a small amount to start.

The four-week information campaign will be featured on the radio, social media, digital channels and display ads in bus shelters.

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