B.C. Representative for Children and Youth Jennifer Charlesworth (Black Press files)

Drug-related deaths double for B.C. youth in care, advocate says

Teens say positive connections with adults key to recovery

Twice as many young people in B.C. government care died of overdoses in 2017 compared to the previous year, according to a new report from Representative for Children and Youth Jennifer Charlesworth.

The 24 youth between age 10 and 18 who died of drug overdoses last year is more than the previous three years combined, and reflects the opioid overdose wave that resulted in 1,452 total deaths in B.C. in 2017. The report also shows drug-related critical injuries nearly doubled in the same time among young people in contact with Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Charlesworth continued the work of previous representatives with a report called Time to Listen: Youth Voices on Substance Use, released Thursday. It analyzed 154 critical injury and death reports, and set up focus groups with 100 young people around the province.

Charlesworth recommended the ministries of health, children and families and the new mental health and addictions ministry develop a “full spectrum of youth-specific harm reduction services, including youth-specific spaces for supervised consumption, that is embedded in a system of wraparound services and supports.”

“A key central theme of these findings is the importance of positive connections to the lives of youth who use substances that can increase health and wellness outcomes,” Charlesworth wrote. “When youth have strong connections to supportive adults and peers, early access to community supports such as schools, mental health and harm reduction services, and to culture, they are more likely to develop coping mechanisms and find protective factors in their lives that reduce barriers to safer substance use.”

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy said she gets the message that the ministries need to work together better to support young people in crisis and using drugs.

“We have heard from youth and families about how difficult it is to access information about available services and to navigate a fragmented and confusing system,” Darcy said Thursday. “We recognize the importance of a seamless and co-ordinated system of care where every door is the right door and a single point of access for youth and all British Columbians, connecting them to all available mental health and substance use services.”

RELATED: Youth agency closes after staff gave drugs to teens

RELATED: B.C. MLAs choose new children’s watchdog

The injury and death case review found that 86 per cent of youth had experienced at least one traumatic event in their lives.

“In almost every focus group, the first reason youth gave for using substances was ‘to numb’ emotional pain caused by events in their lives, or from past trauma,” the report states.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureopioid crisis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Premier announces fall election

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka reacts to election announcement

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

UPDATE: Fire above Sparwood no threat to community

Mayor David Wilks reported it may be due to an exposed coal seam

Conservative opposition critic tours through Kootenay riding on listening tour

Pierre Poilievre, the Tory finance critic, gathering local feedback on pandemic supports, recovery issues

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

16 COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health region

One person is in hospital and 34 people are isolating

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

Missing Lardeau man not found, underwater search called off

Thomas Schreiber was last seen on Sept. 15

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

Most Read