This Movember, Island Health supports men’s mental and physical health by continuing to raise awareness around the toxic drug crisis and its impact on males – especially those who use substances alone.
Tragically, from April 2016 – when the toxic drug crisis was declared a public health emergency – to August 2022, there have been 1,634 illicit drug toxicity deaths within the Island Health region. Of those, 1,286 were male with the majority between 30 and 59 years of age.
“We’ve lost too many lives, and people who use alone are among those at greatest risk of death from toxic drug poisoning,” says Dr. Réka Gustafson, Island health’s Chief Medical Health Officer and Vice President of Population & Public Health. “During Movember and beyond, we want men to know that there are mental health and addictions supports and treatments to help keep them safer.”
People use alone for many reasons, including to avoid stigma, judgment and discrimination. Doing so puts them at higher risk of death from toxic drug poisoning. If an individual is alone when they experience a drug poisoning, their ability to seek medical help diminishes greatly.
If you plan to use alone, there are ways to stay safer:
- Talk! Movember Conversations supports those who want to talk with men in their lives about tough but important topics.
- HeChangedIt app connects men with a supportive community, resources and information to help men deal with stress, anxiety and depression.
- Check your drugs confidentially and for free. Find out more at Overdose Prevention Services.
- Call the National Overdose Response Service at 1-888-688-NORS (6677) for confidential and nonjudgmental support.
- Connect by Lifeguard and The Brave App can connect you to help if a drug poisoning occurs.
- Start low and go slow: use one drug at a time, including alcohol and prescription drugs. Use smaller amounts, especially when the drug is new or you haven't used recently.
For more information on staying safer when using substances, options for treatment and other supports, please visit Island Health’s Overdose Prevention Services page.