New website monitors drug use trends

Interior Health has unveiled a new website in an effort to learn why people use drugs by themselves.

Usesafe.ca gives users the option to book an-in person or by-phone consultation with an IH official, and they’ll also be able to fill out an online survey.

IH hopes the data collected through this website will help them develop a strategy to tackle the issue of unsupervised drug use.

But Dr. Silvina Mema says this website isn’t just part of a study – it’s a way to provide help to drug users.

“We are going to provide them with information about what resources are available to them,” says Dr. Mema. “Then we are going to ask them: “what would you need to stay alive?” Because your risk (of death) by using alone is very high.”

This new strategy is a response to the alarming number of overdose deaths in BC in the last few years. In Kelowna, there were 75 overdose deaths in 2017, more than twice the number that 2016 had.

Jason Wills' brother Dustin was one of those victims.

“On September 11th, 2016, my father found Dustin passed away at his house alone, after having overdosed on fentanyl. He attempted to revive him, but it was too late,” Wills recalled. “I’m not here to judge, I’m not here to tell you not to use drugs… I’m here to say that if you’re going to use; use safe.”  

All consultations through usesafe.ca are completely anonymous; no personal information will be shared.

Those who meet with an IH official for an in-person consultation will be paid in cash for their time.