The drug supply is highly toxic. All drugs can be fatal when too much is taken or combined with other substances. People who use drugs are at increased risk of injury and/or death with any method of drug use, including smoking, inhaling or injecting. This page provides information on how to stay safer when using drugs.
Ways to prevent and treat an overdose
Use with a buddy
Stagger use so someone can respond or call for help if needed.
Alternatively, use at an overdose prevention site where people can use drugs under the supervision of trained staff.
- Lifeguard App - anonymous, life-saving technology that provides a direct link to emergency services when an accidental overdose occurs. Additional features of the app include Naloxone and CPR guidance, drug alerts and direct access to local mental health and addiction support services.
- Brave App – connects you with community members when you are vulnerable to an overdose. Users set up an overdose plan that puts them in control, detailing how, when, and who is sent for help.
Call the National Overdose Response Service 1-888-688-NORS (6677) - a free hotline that provides loving, confidential, non-judgmental support for you, whenever and wherever you use drugs
Start low, 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.
Carry and use Naloxone
Naloxone can reverse the effects of an overdose from opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl. It does not respond to non-opioid drugs such as benzodiazepines, cocaine or alcohol. Take Home Naloxone is available for free in BC. Find a location near you.
Know the signs of an overdose and how to respond
Learn how to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose
- Call 9-1-1 immediately
- Provide rescue breathing
- Inject naloxone
The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act protects you if you witness an overdose and you or someone else calls 911. No one is to be charged with personal possession of an illegal substance nor charged for breach of probation or parole relating to simple drug possession.
Talk to other men: HeChangedItApp
This app connects men with a supportive community, resources and information to help men deal with stress, tension, anxiety and depression. Core pillars address mental, physical, emotional, social and soul fitness.
Check your drugs (confidentially and for free)
- In-person: Victoria
• 1802 Cook St., Victoria, 250-415-7637
• Monday to Saturday, 12 – 7 p.m.
- In-person: Nanaimo
• 437 Wesley St., Nanaimo, 250-591-3999
• Thursday and Friday, 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (about 10 minute response time)
• A drug sample can also be dropped off between 6 a.m. – midnight., seven days a week. Results are sent by email or text.
- Mail-in: Vancouver Island Drug Checking Project
• Visit https://substance.uvic.ca/results
• Click “Send a sample” in the upper right corner of the page
• Follow instructions to anonymously submit drug samples and retrieve results
- Mail-in: Get Your Drugs Tested
• Visit https://getyourdrugstested.com/canada-wide-drug-checking-by-mail/
• Follow instructions to submit sample and retrieve results
- Take away: BTNX Fentanyl Test Strips
BTNX Fentanyl Test Strips can be picked up at all Overdose Prevention Services on Vancouver Island on Vancouver Island for people to use on-site or to take away and use at home or elsewhere.
Places to go for safer drug use
Find an Overdose Prevention and Supervised Consumption Location* in your community. These locations provide non-judgemental services and compassionate support for people to use drugs more safely.
Treatment and pharmaceutical alternatives
Opioid agonist therapy helps treat addiction to opioid drugs such as heroin, oxycodone, fentanyl and Percocet. Find out if this is right for you at Opioid Agonist Therapy.
There are medications available for you or your loved one that help prevent withdrawal and limit exposure to the toxic drug supply. Find out more about Safer Prescribing Options.
Find support for substance use
Phone lines for support:
- Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service: Toll free 1-800-663-1441. Confidential multilingual information and referral to community resources offered 24/7
- Kuu-us Aboriginal Crisis Line: call toll free: 1-888-588-8717
- Vancouver Island Crisis Line: call toll free: 1-888-494-3888 or text: 250-800-3806
* Overdose Prevention Services are allowed under special Ministerial Order (Ministerial Order M488) under the Emergency Services Act. Supervised Consumption Services are approved by Health Canada for exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.