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Users to be alerted by text of drug-poisoning overdose advisories

Island Health is the third health authority in the province to implement a text messaging system to alert users of drug-poisoning overdose advisories in the region.
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Mental Health and Addictions Minister Jennifer Whiteside called the alert system “one more critical tool” as the province expands harm reduction measures while connecting people to lifesaving supports. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Island Health is the third health authority in the province to implement a text messaging system to alert users of drug-poisoning overdose advisories in the region.

The system, also used by Interior Health and Fraser Health, was developed in partnership with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and Provincial Health Services Authority, and is expected to expand to other regions of the province.

Anyone can join the system anonymously by texting JOIN to 253787. Subscribers will receive text alerts when Island Health distributes drug-poisoning overdose advisories, including tips for safer drug use, to specific regions.

Alerts featuring other public-health related information may also be available in the future, said Island Health.

In a statement Thursday, Mental Health and Addictions Minister Jennifer Whiteside called the alert system “one more critical tool” as the province expands harm reduction measures while connecting people to lifesaving supports.

In 2021, there were 2,224 deaths due to the toxic illicit drug supply — the highest-ever number of annual overdose deaths in B.C. since toxic drug poisonings were declared a public health emergency in 2016.

In the first 10 months of this year, at least 1,827 British Columbians have died due to illicit drugs.

For more information about the alerting service, visit Toward the Heart.com/alerts.

For information on drug-checking services to support Island Health communities and prevent drug-poisonings, visit islandhealth.ca.

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