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Kelowna health officials hope surveying solo drug users will reduce risk of overdose

Watch Above: A Kelowna mother speaks out about drug prevention.

Drug users are more likely to fatally overdose if they use drugs alone, so Interior Health is looking to talk to solo users and their loved ones in Kelowna to learn from their experiences.

The health authority said it wants to “better understand potential actions people might consider to reduce the risk of overdose.”

In order to collect the information, the health authority has created a website where volunteers can take an online survey and access information on harm reduction. They can also call 1-844-469-1071 to arrange an interview by phone or in person.

READ MORE: Panel releases recommendations as B.C. sees almost 4 deaths a day this February

“We want to work with people who use alone so we can find ways of reducing the risk. We’ve come a long way in the last couple of years, but there is still a lot to learn to make a difference. We are looking to individuals who could provide their own lived experience,” medical officer Dr. Silvina Mema said.

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Kelowna mother Arlene Howe, whose son fatally overdosed, is speaking out in support of the prevention efforts.

“Losing a child is unimaginable and devastating, the deep loss and pain is ever present. He was a charismatic, funny, hardworking man. He was a real person,” Howe said.

“My message is simple. Let’s work together to end this destructive crisis, this cycle of overdose and death. We can’t change people, but we can ask those who use to consider arming themselves with more protection. I urge people who use to review and employ the resources on the Use Safe site. Prevention is key.”

The health authority said they won’t be collecting personal information as part of the outreach effort and interviews will be confidential.