Three syringes full of liquid sit on a pale blue table.

Photo Credit: Diana Polekhina | Unsplash

Are Toxic Drugs Getting Worse?

Take care of your people, it's wild out there right now

Island Health says drug poisonings have spiked

On Aug 2nd, Island Health issued a toxic drug warning for the Comox Valley and Campbell River. They’ve seen a spike in drug poisonings in these two communities. 

The advisory runs until Aug 9. They’ll reassess the risk at that point to see if they need to extend the warning.

The advisory comes with life-saving advice for folks using drugs:

  • Start with small amounts,
  • Avoid mixing alcohol and prescription drugs,
  • Carry Naloxone for emergencies,
  • Stagger use with a friend, and
  • Ask someone to check on you.

You can also download the Lifeguard app at, or call the national OD Response Team at 1-888-688-6677.

We know this health crisis is not just a big city problem. In 2021, 26 people died from drug poisonings in Campbell River. Comox Valley lost 35 people. Port Alberni lost 21.

Those are people’s friends and loved ones.

Dr. Charmaine Enns is a medical health officer with Island Health. “In the age group of 19 to 39 on Vancouver Island, the leading cause of death in that age group is toxic drugs,” she told CTV News.

Toxic drugs now kill more people in BC than all other leading causes of death.

You know what else would save lives? A safe drug supply.

Toxic drugs are getting more toxic. There’s more fentanyl in street drugs. And there’s more benzodiazepines (benzos), too. Naloxone doesn’t work well on benzos, so it’s harder to revive someone who’s been poisoned.

We could solve this problem. Decriminalizing drugs and getting a safe supply would help keep folks alive.

Dead loved ones can’t get clean.