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Talk about overdose risks 'before it's too late': campaign

Uncomfortable conversations about drug overdoses simply can't wait — you could save a life, a B.C. health authority warns in When Words Matter campaign.

A still from a new series of videos released by Fraser Health portrays difficult conversations on substance use between loved ones — as part of a campaign to help spark such life-saving dialogues.

Courtesy Fraser Health

A still from a new series of videos released by Fraser Health portrays difficult conversations on substance use between loved ones — as part of a campaign to help spark such life-saving dialogues.

Fraser Health has an urgent and stark warning for all of us: when it comes to the epidemic of deadly drug overdoses in British Columbia, "Start the conversation before it's too late."

That's the message at the centre of a new campaign the health authority launched on Monday offering some advice on how to bring up the topic of substance use.

It's a dialogue, however uncomfortable, that "could save the life of a family member, friend, or roommate," according to a press release.

The new When Words Matter campaign includes Youtube videos, a series of posters and a four-page guidebook offering advice on how, exactly, you might bring up the sensitive topic with someone you know.

Mental health and addictions minister Judy Darcy said such conversations remain painful for most people because of ongoing "discomfort and fear about talking about addiction openly," according to a statement.

"Starting a conversation about substance use is never easy," explained Fraser Health medical health officer Dr. Aamir Bharmal in a release, "but approaching a person you care about to have a conversation could help save their life.

"It may take time, but by checking in on a person you believe is using substances, and being open to talking about substance use in an empathetic way, you can help reduce their isolation and provide a more supportive environment for their recovery.”

The guide accompanying the campaign offers tips on how to approach each stage of broaching an often-distressing topic, including how to prepare, cues to talk about substance use with someone, ways to "keep calm and focused," and what to do if the "conversation doesn't go well."

Another pointer deals with those affected by a loved one's addiction, effects that are often emotionally and psychologically long-lasting.

"Care for yourself as someone who is impacted by another’s substance use," the guide advises.

More than eight-in-ten overdose deaths in B.C. were men, according to the Coroner's Service, and nine-in-ten between 19 and 59.

For more information on the new campaign, visit www.fraserhealth.ca/overdose.

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