Capital Daily

It's International Overdose Awareness Month. Here Are Some Ways You Can Help

Episode Summary

International Overdose Awareness Day is August 31st. Today we learn about how everyone in our community can play a part to help those in need.

Episode Notes

International Overdose Awareness Day is August 31st. Today we learn about how everyone in our community can play a part to help those in need.  

Get more stories like this in your inbox every morning by subscribing to our daily newsletter at 

Check our membership opportunity at

And subscribe to us on our socials! 

Twitter @CapitalDailyVic  

Instagram @CapitalDaily  

Facebook @CapitalDailyVic

Episode Transcription

Disclaimer: This interview has been edited for clarity and length. 

Jackie: Hi, my name is Jackie Lamport. Today is Friday, August 27. Welcome to the Capital Daily Podcast. Today on the show, this coming Tuesday, August 31, is international overdose Awareness Day. For this Good News Friday, Good News Letter Editor Emily Fagan joins to talk about the different ways that everybody in our community can come together and help all those in need during this crisis. 

Emily, welcome back to the show. 

Emily: Yeah, thanks for having me on. 

Jackie: For this story, we do need a little bit of background. People may have noticed the purple ribbons strung up around town right now. Why is that? 

Emily: One of the biggest health crises in BC right now, aside from COVID-19, is the overdose crisis. There's been a lot of groups that have come out calling for action on this, which is why you might see those purple ribbons around town, or there have been quite frequent rallies over the past year, particularly because the BC coroner service called 2020, the worst year yet for overdose deaths. Since this was declared a health crisis on April 20 of 2016, over 7000 deaths due to overdoses, it's been really bad. So people this year on overdose Awareness Day, which is next Tuesday, are coming together to try to take action and more than that, everyone has been lost to it. 

Jackie: Whenever we talk about the stories that we're covering for Good News Friday, I always like to joke and say not, not joking. But when I say that, good news comes from bad news. In this case, it's a little bit harder to get to the good news, but there is some. You spoke to a man named Olivander Day, can you tell me who he is? 

Emily: Olivander Day is the West Shore Clinic Coordinator for the harm reduction organization, AVI. He told me that during 2020, in Victoria, we saw a lot more opening up of resources for people who have substance abuse disorders. There's a lot more funding for safe supply and opioid agonist therapy to help treat addictions, which is a pretty substantial movement on this because getting access to a safe supply can cut into those toxic drug overdoses that we're seeing. Let's hope so; at least that's the kind of vibe we're getting from Olivander. So this could be a pivotal moment. Although it's worth mentioning, this came amid so many people's lives being lost. Last summer, we were seeing record-breaking month after record-breaking month of overdose deaths. And it was just terrible. I think both of the people I spoke to said that they knew people they lost. 

Jackie: It's a crisis that's been ongoing for a while. And it's something that we do have to deal with. Even with the funding you're talking about and the resources that are coming about, it's still not enough. As you learned from the guests you interviewed this week; the frontline workers are looking for the community to come together. 

Emily: That's the other good news. So if the community can come together to take action on this, there can be some real change. The other person I talked to, Fred Cameron, used the example of marijuana decriminalization, so 30 years ago, people were kind of like at the fringes of legalization where, you know, it was this really like, criminal thing and people were being arrested for possession of marijuana. And yeah, it was just a lot more dangerous. And now we've gotten to a point wherein Victoria, right before it was legalized, had quite a few practices in place unofficially where they were shutting down dispensaries. It was kind of not really decriminalized, but like in practice, pretty decriminalized. And that's kind of what the advocates I spoke to are hoping things kind of go towards, because if people feel safe, accessing supports and feel safe, moving to drug testing and things like that, then it'll get people on the on-ramp to healing.

Jackie: Can you tell me about Fred Cameron?

Emily: Yeah, so Fred Cameron is the manager of operations at solid outreach society. So Solid Outreach does a lot of hands-on work in the community to prevent overdoses; they hire people struggling with addiction disorders or previously had addiction disorders. And they take them on for that, like, really immersed community outreach that doesn't like very intense jobs in the community. 

Jackie: So we're talking about the community coming together and getting involved, and we'll get to how we're looking for that to happen in a moment. First, Fred Cameron, as a citizen, had a pretty harrowing story about an experience that he had. He was just lucky to be in a position where he knew exactly what to do. Can you tell me about that story?  

Emily: Yeah, so about two years ago, Fred was off duty, like he wasn't at work; he was on a BC Transit bus on his way to Heckler's Comedy Club. And he saw a man collapsed, suffering from what appeared to be an overdose. And so he and another passenger jumped into action, and he called 911. And the other passengers started chest compressions. They were able to keep things going until an ambulance was able to arrive. And that's the kind of response that Cameron told me he hopes a lot of people in the community are able to react with if they see something like this. 

Jackie: So, in speaking with Fred and Olivander, you learned about some ways that people can get involved, and we can come together as a community. There are three points, and we will run through all three of those. So let's start with the first one, which is getting informed. Can you just explain why that is so important? 

Emily: So the biggest part of that, for sure, is challenging people's ideas of drug use and fighting the stigma, the negative stigma around people with addictions. This widespread stigma against opioid users can have a tool that isn't seen if you're not in that community. Although both of the people I talked to you for this mentioned that pretty much everyone in Victoria knows someone, whether they realize it or not, who struggles with a substance abuse disorder or has used substances. So it's really important to make sure that you're not perpetuating that stigma because that can drive that person to isolate and not ask to access the resources they might need and even take more risks, which ultimately can cost lives. 

Jackie: So, how do people get informed?

Emily: There are quite a few places I linked in the article. There's a lot of online resources for this. But you can basically look up how people first language and recognizing substance use as a disorder helps reframe language and destigmatize this. I've linked that in the article, but it's important to know things like the most common age group at risk for substance abuse is 19 to 39, which is Jackie; I think you and I are both in that category. I think it's something I didn't realize until researching this. So you have to keep an eye out for people close to you who might be struggling. 

Jackie: The next step is to get trained, and that one's a little bit more effort on our part. What can we do? 

Emily: Naloxone training is super important in this. If you're able to recognize the signs of an overdose and respond, that's massively helpful in saving lives. There are quite a few online resources linked in the article, and there's a training video made, which is very helpful in walking you through it. But there are also some in-person sessions that you can go to around the city, most particularly by solid. If you email Fred Cameron at Health Education at solid, he can set up a five to 10-minute hands-on learning session with you to kind of walk you through the steps of Naloxone training and recognizing an overdose. And then Naloxone kits are free so that you can take one home from there, and the province also provides them as well.

Another important thing to know is there are places that you can get your drugs tested around Victoria. One is connected to the Solid building on Cook St. Testing drugs is definitely a big thing for reducing the toxic drug supply. 

Jackie: And then the last point that you have in the article is to support the people on the front lines. Can you explain that? 

Emily: There are so many great programs right now doing this work. Just a shout out to a few there's the Indigenous Harm Reduction Team, Moms Stop the Harm, Peers, and the Umbrella Society. They're all doing different versions of different initiatives to help make this crisis not a crisis anymore and save lives. So volunteering with them, donating your time and your money, and advocating for elected officials and other community members are all really important things that can be started right away. One of the ways you can advocate or get better informed is to go to the international overdose Awareness Day event in Centennial Square on August 29. So that's from 4 PM to 7 PM. And at the very beginning, they're going to have some information booths and music, free Longstone training kits, and lots of resources. After that, there's going to be a rally and a candlelit vigil for everyone lost to this crisis. One thing that I say in the Good Newsletter a lot is when there's, you know, something that's terrible going on, like, whether it's natural disasters, like fires in the interior or the COVID-19 crisis, I find it's always inspiring to look to the helpers. In this story, I think it's helpful to help helpers and continue their work because they can't do it alone, and it's definitely a heavy burden to carry.

Jackie: Emily, thank you so much for this. I know that this one is a little bit harder to get through. It's a very, very tough topic. A lot of people have been impacted, and everybody likely knows somebody that has. The good news is that we as a community recognize this, and we want to come together, and people want to help, so thank you so much for making it easy for people to understand how they can best do that.

Emily: Yeah, of course. Thanks for carrying this out to even more people, Jackie. 

Jackie: You can read Emily Fagan's full story, and to access all of the links that she mentioned in the interview today, visit If you want more good news in your inbox every single Friday, make sure to subscribe to the Good Newsletter, which you can also do at And if you want to help support Capital Daily's local journalism and connect your business with our engaged and curious great Victorian audience of over 50,000 email partnerships team at 

Thanks again for joining us. If you enjoyed the podcast, please leave a rating and review and also subscribe so that you don't miss any episodes going forward. We post new shows every Monday to Friday. My name is Jackie Lamport. This is the Capital Daily Podcast. We'll talk to you on Monday.