Overdose Awareness Day is a chance to support those who have lost loved ones

Today (Thursday) is International Overdose Awareness Day, with awareness events, rallies and candlelight vigils being held around the world, including Victoria. 

Island Health's Medical Health Officer Dr. Paul Hasselback says the number of opiod overdose deaths continues to rise despite efforts to address the crisis.

" I don't think that we've necessarily even seen the worst of it yet. Things have continued to escalate over the last few years. We saw another increase beginning in about November last year that has sustained. And while there's lots of efforts in place, and this is a call for action, those efforts haven't yet had a chance to make much of a difference."

Hasselback says in the last 2 years the overdose crisis has moved from drugs being on the fringe to being one of the top causes of death on the island, with over 300 people lost since the crisis began.

An awareness event, rally and vigil is slated for Centennial Square starting at 4:30 today. Hasselback says he knows colleagues who have lost loved ones, and hopes members of the community go to the event, learn more about the opioid crisis, and show support for those struggling with their loss as well as those struggling with addiction.

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