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

Comox Valley Cycling Coalition AGM upcoming

The Comox Valley Cycling Coalition will have a couple of special guest… Continue reading

Valley secondary school salad bar launches at Isfeld

Although there isn’t a formal cafeteria in the school, students at Mark… Continue reading

Comox considers plastic bag ban

Council has taken one step closer to banning single-use plastic bags and straws within the town.

Risk of ‘deadly avalanches’ leads to warning for B.C.’s south coast

Weak layer of snow on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland could trigger an avalanche

Update: Early morning shooting in Courtenay

Reporter at taped-off scene outside apartment complex

NIC hosts high school students

North Island College hosted a High School Open House Thursday at the… Continue reading

NIC Comox Valley to add student housing

168 units expected to open in 2022

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Auditor General Carol Bellringer, ‘eminent jurist’ to examine allegations

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Federal fisheries minister calls for precautionary approach to fish farming

Government still reviewing Federal Court’s decision on PRV – Wilkinson

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Most Read