Island Health is launching a campaign to encourage people who use needles to return them safely. (Citizen file)

Island Health launches needle-awareness campaign

Encourages support of local needle-recovery efforts

Island Health is launching a campaign to encourage people who use needles to return them safely.

The campaign will remind people to “make it your gig to return your rig” and support local needle-recovery efforts.

The Island, like much of the rest of the province, is grappling with addiction and drug issues that have led to a provincial emergency being called in 2016 to try and deal with the growing crisis.

RELATED STORY: ISLANDERS SHARE PAINFUL EXPERIENCE WITH OPIOID ADDICTION

The ongoing emergency is also seeing drug paraphernalia, particularly used needles, being discarded in parks, alleys and other public places. This has added to the urgency of the situation.

Island Health medical health officer Dr. Shannon Waters said that with discarded needle boxes now spread throughout communities at various locations, and designated places to pick up fresh needles and drop off used ones, efforts are being made to control the situation.

“The vast majority of needles are being returned after use, but not all of them,” the Duncan-based Waters said. “We’re looking at getting the community’s stakeholders together for a collaboration to further target discarded needles. We also want those who use substances to get involved and help keep their communities free of this debris.”

RELATED STORY: OFFICIALS STEPPING UP TO COLLECT GROWING NUMBER OF DISCARDED NEEDLES

Waters said the province’s strategy to deal with B.C.’s drug crisis, which has seen hundreds of deaths over the last few years, has had successes.

She said there have been no deaths at any of the nine overdose prevention sites the province has opened on Vancouver Island since 2016 as part of its response to the opioid overdose emergency.

Waters added that the growing availability of naloxone kits to counteract and prevent overdoses has also had some positive results.

“But there is a stigma around mental health and substance abuse, so many people choose to do their drugs alone, where no one is around to assist them if they overdose,” Waters said.

“We need to collectively work on this problem together as a community.”

A health bulletin released by Island Heath encourages drug users to use a fresh needle every time to reduce the transmission of HIV, hepatitis B and C, and ensure the needles are safely disposed of when used.

More can be learned about harm reduction at https://towardtheheart.com/about

“Sometimes discarded needles are found in public areas,” the release stated.

“Safe disposal of needles saves others from getting hurt accidentally. Fortunately, the risk of being infected by an accidental needle stick is rare.”

The release also offers advice as to how to properly pick up and dispose of discarded needles:

• Don’t try to replace the cap on needles

• Don’t snap, break or bend needles

• Pick up needles with care; use work gloves and tongs if available

• Hold needle point away from you

• Put needle in a metal or hard plastic container with a lid

• Replace cap on container securely and label it

• Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water

• Drop off the sealed container at your local public health unit or at a community drop box

For locations of needle disposal sites around the Island, see this map.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Federal government actions hurt Sooke hatchery fundraising efforts

Funding denial comes on the heels of fishing closures

Stop work order at Sooke salmon hatchery devastates volunteers

CRD steps in as some volunteers give up their efforts

Belgian man searches for family of fallen First World War soldier from Victoria

Mark Edward Berton attended Victoria High School and has his grave in Flanders Field

Saanich preschool celebrates 30 years with reunion event

Thousands invited RSVP for Carrot Seed Preschool 30-year celebration

Sidney Museum’s Chief Dan George exhibition sees surge of interest

Four mayors, federal Green leader, Tsartlip reps to attend June 21 opening ceremony

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen found in torched SUV

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

SOOKE HISTORY: Pemberton Pool namesake remains a mystery

Historian believes it was possibly named after surveyor Joseph Despard Pemberton

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Most Read