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Campaign raises awareness of drug toxicity, safety for post-secondary students

Campaign raises awareness of drug toxicity, safety for post-secondary students

September 9, 2021 at 11:26 am  BC, News, Politics

As post-secondary students return to campus and as toxic drugs continue circulating in every part of B.C., it is vital that students have the resources they need to make informed decisions and stay safer.

To ensure students attending universities and colleges are knowledgeable about the severity of the drug-poisoning crisis affecting communities throughout B.C. and actions they can take to stay safer, the Province has extended its Toxic Drugs Are Circulating awareness campaign. This campaign points to harm-reduction resources, including how to recognize the signs of an overdose, respond using naloxone, download the Lifeguard App and access emergency contacts.

“The Toxic Drugs are Circulating campaign meets students where they’re at and gives them tools to help stay safe,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “As students return to campus and social activities, we want to make sure they are safe, informed and have access to the information and supports they need. It is important for us to do what we can to turn the tide on the poisoned drug crisis affecting British Columbians.”  

The Toxic Drugs Are Circulating campaign ran provincewide in August and has been extended to specifically reach post-secondary students in the fall. This is just one of many measures being taken to support young people in B.C. and help keep them safe.

These measures include:

  • expanding access to naloxone;
  • launching Here2Talk, a free and confidential 24/7 mental health counselling and referral service for all B.C. post-secondary students; and
  • expanding Foundry centres and Foundry Virtual to help youth up to the age of 24 access supports like counselling, peer support, primary care and family support.

“With students coming back together after a long, hard time apart, many are excited to socialize and celebrate. If that involves drugs, be sure to buddy up and carry naloxone at all times, know the risks and how to stay safer,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “With more than five people dying each day in British Columbia because of poisoned drugs, it’s crucial that people understand that toxic drugs are circulating, and people should take every precaution when they use.”

To ensure the campaign reaches post-secondary students, the Province is working with colleges, universities, health providers and other key stakeholders to spread the campaign’s messages on campus, social media and in popular social spaces where students gather.

The campaign is running at the same time as other student-run harm-reduction projects, echoing students’ voices, including the Harm Reduction campaign hosted by the Alma Mater Student Society (AMS) of the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver.

“It’s time to move beyond the ‘just say no’ messaging of yesterday because we know that some students will decide to use drugs at some point,” said James Cabangon, associate vice-president, AMS Student Society of UBC Vancouver. “Our harm-reduction project informs students about naloxone kits and distributes as many as possible throughout campus. The more kits we distribute, the more lives we can save. Having said that, we’re glad to see our projects serving each other in value and hopefully, in effect.”

The awareness campaign will run on targeted social media as well as at on campus locations throughout the fall.

Learn More:

To view some of the campaign materials: https://spaces.hightail.com/space/9svU2jbB9e

For more information on how to prevent overdoses: https://www.StopOverdoseBC.ca 

To access virtual low- and no-cost mental health and substance use services: www.gov.bc.ca/covid19mentalhealthsupports    

For information on how to apply for a Facility Overdose Response Box: https://towardtheheart.com/forb-sites

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