Toxic drugs alert system launches in Interior Health

A new health alert system launched by Interior Health is meant to help reduce harms, including overdose and death, from toxic illicit drugs.

A sample alert from the new drug alert text system on a mobile phone. Image: Interior Health

Interior Health has launched a new health alert system in response to the ongoing toxic drug emergency. The Toxic Drugs Alerts system uses text messaging to send alerts providing  information and up to date resources to people who use drugs and community members.

In Revelstoke, four people died each year in 2021 and 2020 due to toxic drug supply.

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The new system is developed by the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Office of Virtual Health in the Provincial Health Services Authority in partnership with regional health authorities.

“Timely and targeted information regarding the current drug supply is vital when we are seeing the toxicity of illicit drugs increase at an alarming rate,” said Interior Health Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Manager Jessica Bridgeman. 

“Alerts will help people make better informed decisions and ultimately help reduce harms, including overdose and death, from poisoned drugs.”

Interior Health is encouraging people who use drugs, those who support them, and community members to opt-in for toxic drug alerts by sending the keyword JOIN to ALERTS (253787) to receive toxic drug and drug poisoning alerts. Subscribers to the alert system can also submit information relating to toxic drugs by text anonymously.

There are plans to include other public health alerts in the system, such as COVID-19 related information, and expand to additional health authorities this summer.

In a test of the system, found the alert system is only in place in Interior Health, but texts from the system said the service will be coming to the other B.C. health authorities in the future.

This post was published by a member of the Revelstoke Mountaineer staff. Stories published under the staff byline include news briefs, stories that consist mostly of media releases, social media post shares, and stories by contributors with the author's name listed in the body of the story.