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Overdoses Killing Too Many Young People In Metro Vancouver

By Balwant Sanghera

Overdose has now  become a major concern in Metro Vancouver. Last year, in Vancouver alone, there were 335 deaths from this curse. According to media reports there were 4,719 overdose related calls to first responders in Vancouver . However, in 2017 they had to respond to 6,231 such calls. So far, 2018 doesn’t bode well in this regard.There have been cases of 2,700 overdoses in Surrey. Nearly every community has been badly affected by these developments. Each level of government is trying to address this issue head on. Like every other community, the South Asian community has also been suffering from this malady. In this context, efforts by people like Dr. RupinderBrar , her team and the Roshni Clinic opened in Surrey last spring are commendable. This clinic  provides services for South Asians addicted to alcohol and stimulants including amphetamine and cocaine.It has been reported that a medical clinic in BC and a social service agency in Alberta are set to expand programs to meet the often- hidden and growing problem of South Asians battling addiction to opioids .

Provincially, between January and October , 2017 opioid  crisis claimed 1,208 lives.  These included 999 deaths involving synthetic opioid fentanyl. A number of community organizations are working hard in stemming the flow of overdose crisis. Richmond Addiction Services Society (RASS) is one of these organizations that has been serving the community since 1975. RASS provides support,education, individual and family counselling related to addictions. It also provides outreach counselling and case management to seniors at home,addiction education ,seminars support groups as well as Constructive Alternative Teen Suspensions (CATS) program with the Richmond School District.

RASS has received funding to co-ordinate OPEN, the Overdose Prevention and Education Networkin response to the Opioid Crisis.Consequently, it is inviting participation from the Richmond community at two Community Activation Events. The purpose of these events is to bring people together to discuss ideas,offer suggestions and to really understand from a community perspective what is happening in Richmond.The information thus gathered will be used to develop  a community action plan which will be shared with the community partners, government reps at all levels and the project funders.The first Community Activation Event is scheduled for Saturday, February3 from 10 AM to 2 PM at Brighouse Library, #100-7700 Minoru Gate (Minoru at Granville) in Richmond. Lunch will be included. Interested persons can go to https://communityactivationevent.eventrite.com or call RASS at 778-732-1519 for registration and any other inquiries.

Rick Dubras, Executive Director of RASS is urging members of the South Asian community to participate in this event and give their input. He stated :” We are coming together from across all cultures in Richmond to help inform our process on how our community wants to deal with the overdose crisis. Though smaller than some cities in BC ,Richmond is facing very negative impacts from substance use and addiction. Our families, our youth ,our seniors and our adults are being impacted.” This is an excellent opportunity for our community ,especially those of us living in Richmond to get involved and become a partner  in tackling the addiction and overdose crisis.

BalwantSanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist.

© A Master Media

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