The story of overdose is one that has become more and more common. “We need more people to understand that substance use and substance use disorders can be experienced by anyone, but there is so much shame and stigma to even talk about it," remarked a campus volunteer. Sadly, the number of overdose deaths continue on an upward trajectory with five deaths, on average, per day in the province.
At the same time, the number of people embarking on a recovery journey and reaching their personal wellness goals is also on the rise.
“I have lost so many people to overdose. But with the help of FIR and Heartwood I am going to have my baby in November. I couldn't have done it without them. They are great! My boyfriend is also at Together We Can, getting treatment right now," remarked a patient as she tied a ribbon on to the Tree of Remembrance.
Throughout the day, many other staff members and patients also wrote down the names of a loved one lost or an individual whose recovery they wish to celebrate. In addition to the tree, the Provincial Perinatal Substance Use Project distributed ribbons, stickers, buttons and t-shirts to staff and patients with the intention of reducing stigma and raising awareness.
The Tree of Remembrance
“International Overdose Awareness Day is a time to honour the lives of women and people lost through overdoses while addressing stigma and raising awareness that overdose is largely preventable. This year, we want to share the message that recovery is possible, no matter what it may look like, whether it is abstinence or active use. From a gendered perspective, due to the dual impacts of the increasingly toxic drug supply and Covid-19 pandemic, in the first 6 months of 2021, 202 women have died of overdose. We continue to strive to deliver care to pregnant and parenting women and people using substances that is trauma and violence informed, culturally safe, equitable, and recovery/harm reduction oriented. I am hopeful that these principle based approaches to care can be woven throughout the work we do here at BC Children's and Women's Hospital," stated Cheryl Davies, Chief Operating Officer, BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre.
Adolescent Medicine and Health: Sarb Bains, Dr. Eva Moore, Dr. James Wang, Sabrina Gill, Dr. Andrea Wallace, Dr. Dzung Vo
Dr. Eva Moore, Adolescent Medicine Pediatrician shared similar and hopeful sentiments about the work ahead, “Substance use overdose is one of the leading causes of death for adolescents in BC. Our team is committed to addressing this critical crisis. We believe that this work requires creativity and collaboration across disciplines within the hospital and with the community. Our aim is to ensure that youth have the opportunity to thrive and meet their full potential."
As the overdose crisis continues to take the lives of good people, August 31st, International Overdose Awareness Day is a time to reflect, especially as healthcare providers. If you or a loved one requires support for substance use, trauma, moral distress, compassion fatigue, grief and loss, there is help.