In response to the ongoing toxic drug emergency, a new health alert system has been launched across Interior Health.
The Toxic Drug Alerts System uses text messaging to send alerts as a public health measure to prevent drug poisonings and deaths, and provides up-to-date resources to people who use drugs and community members, in an announcement made May 30 by IH.
People who use drugs, those who support them, and community members are encouraged to opt-in for toxic drug alerts by sending the keyword JOIN to ALERTS (253787). They will receive toxic drug and drug poisoning alerts and, in the future, public health alerts such as COVID-19 related information.
“Alerts will help people make better informed decisions and ultimately help reduce harms, including overdose and death, from poisoned drugs,” said Jessica Bridgeman, Interior Health sexual health and harm reduction manager.
Subscribers can anonymously submit information relating to toxic drugs or drug poisonings via text using the keyword OD.
Interior Health is the first health authority to be launching the new system, which was developed by the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Office of Virtual Health at the Provincial Health Services Authority in partnership with regional health authorities. The alert system is expected to expand to additional health authorities in summer 2022.
A program called RADAR, managed as a research project in Vancouver Coastal Health since 2015, has demonstrated the success of a text message-based drug and overdose alerting system.
For more information about substance use and the toxic drug crisis visit interiorhealth.ca.