The province of British Columbia is reportedly using “every possible available tool” to curb opioid overdose deaths—and thousands of deaths have been averted since introducing several strategies. But what is happening to those many thousands of citizens who are overdosing but not dying? Opioid overdoses induce respiratory depression and can cause severe brain injury in those who survive.

“Government is aware that there is increasing concern about the impact of overdose events on survivors, including brain injury. The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Health Authorities and other key stakeholders will continue to work together to identify ways to assess the needs and support this client population.”  — Support needed for overdose survivors living with brain damage, B.C. doctors say, Vancouver Sun (August 29, 2019)

Acquired Brain Injury and Opioid Overdose Community Dialogue in Nanaimo

Nanaimo Brain Injury Society hosted a community dialogue called Acquired Brain Injury and Opioid Overdose [link opens to the final report in PDF format] in June 2019. The community dialogue provided the opportunity to foster connections between stakeholders and communicate about how community, health services and research can bridge identified gaps and challenges.
The facilitated discussions were built on presentations by people with lived experience of acquired brain injury and overdose and acquired brain injury health professionals. Speakers and participants were asked to reflect on what their response to people affected by acquired brain injury and opioid overdose would look like if it was grounded on the foundation of love.

Fentanyl overdose victim lives with brain damage

Amanda Wright, a fentanyl overdose victim from Pitt Meadows, B.C., now lives with permanent brain damage and requires full-time care. The Wrights’ story shows there are many other overdose victims — those who are still alive, but whose brains are forever altered. (CBC News)

People First Radio episode and podcasts

People First Radio (a VIMHS public education and media project) has created podcasts with audio from the Acquired Brain Injury and Opioid Overdose event. Use the links below to listen.

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Image (top): Some of the 61 participants at the Nanaimo Brain Injury Society Acquired Brain Injury and Opioid Overdose community dialogue on June 26, 2019.