Advocates slam B.C. government ads meant to fight overdose crisis

Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs says ads ignore ‘systemic’ factors

An advocacy group is calling out the B.C. government for a string of advertisements meant to ease the stigma around drug use, saying the ads ignore key factors that have contributed to the overdose crisis.

In January, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction launched a series of ads on TV, radio and online that depict all kinds of people, from lawyers to teachers to business people, with the slogan, “People who take drugs are real people.”

The Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs said in a news release last week the ads ignore the structural and systemic factors that play into overdose deaths.

“The greatest danger of MMHA’s anti-stigma campaign is it ignores the reality all of us live through. It ignores criminalization, discrimination, and the tainted drug supply killing so many people. No, we’re not the problem,” the group said.

“We don’t need fixing, treatment, or a doctor’s diagnosis to tell us that the drug market is poisoned and our government isn’t doing enough.”

READ MORE: 130 suspected overdose calls in 1 day, all lives saved, B.C. paramedics say

READ MORE: B.C. doctors told not to limit opioids or refuse care of chronic pain patients

The group has in turn released its own “remixes” of the ads, taking special aim at the federal government to decriminalize the possession of drugs and provide a safe supply.

“People who use drugs are stigmatized by posters that say they need help,” reads one. “Get a real solution. Decriminalize drug use.”

Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs releases ‘remix’ of provincial anti-stigma overdose campaign ads. (Facebook)

The mental health ministry said in an email that the campaign is not meant to address all of the complexities of the overdose crisis, nor is it meant to focus on decriminalization.

“The aim of the campaign is to knock down the walls of silence that keep people from having courageous conversations about drug use by acknowledging that people who use drugs are real people,” it said.

READ MORE: Moms of those killed by illicit opioids take to B.C. Legislature in call for action

The ministry said the NDP government agrees with sentiments from police and health officials that “we can’t arrest our way out of this crisis.”

Nearly 750 people died of an illicit drug overdose in B.C. during the first six months of 2018, compared to 816 in the same time period last year. Fentanyl continues to be the top drug found through toxicology reports, at 75 per cent.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Northwest mobile unit to help those at heart of mental health, addiction crisis

Province, Northern Health unveils new unit in Terrace to bridge gaps in services

Photos: Vanderhoof jives to tunes played by the NVSS jazz band

Funds raised will help the school jazz band to attend a festival in Whistler

Saik’uz resident urges other indigenous students to apply for award

Irving K Barber scholarship deadline is March 31st

B.C. minister says rural internet is ‘railroad of the 21st century’

Jinny Sims talks details about the $50-million provincial and possible $750-million federal funds

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Trudeau in Vancouver to support Tamara Taggart at Liberal nomination event

The former broadcaster is seeking the nomination for the Vancouver Kingsway riding

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

B.C. VIEWS: The hijacking of our education system gathers speed

Children taught to strike and shout fringe far-left demands

Judges on Twitter? Ethical guidance for those on the bench under review

Canadian judges involvement in community life are among issues under review

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

Most Read