A new survey on drug use has Fraser Health officials hoping to connect with “the hidden population” making up a large number of overdose deaths in the province: those using alone and in their homes.
Fraser Health launched the online, anonymous survey Tuesday, as the health authority’s latest effort to better understand the characteristics of people who are using alone.
Fraser Health’s chief medical health officer Dr. Victoria Lee said the online survey comes after probing other demographics of drug users, such as those in treatment and those who are homeless, to hear firsthand what they think needs to be included or altered in harm reduction and treatment strategies in the region.
“This is specifically to target people who don’t want to reveal that they are using,” she said. “So many lives have been lost due to this crisis. People are risking their lives every day because they do not want to reveal that they use illegal substances.”
|Screenshot of new Fraser Health survey on drug use.|
From January to March of this year, 121 people have died in the Fraser Valley and parts of Metro Vancouver that are under Fraser Health’s jurisdiction, according to the BC Coroner Service. That follows a staggering 482 who died in 2017.
Of those who have died from an overdose in B.C., 80 per cent have been found by emergency officials inside homes, hotels, motels and businesses– a statistic that has stayed relatively static since the overdose crisis was declared a public health emergency in 2016.
Lee said the survey results will be used to determine what steps the health authority can take next that “will make the biggest difference.”
The survey, which adapts to the multiple choice answer selected, includes questions such as how often someone uses drugs, if they have tried to access treatment for their drug use and how the health authority can better support them if they have been through treatment.
“Our hope is that the survey will empower people living with substance use issues to speak up anonymously and share information that could help us understand what we need to do to engage people in our services,” Lee said.
The survey will be open until June 5.