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Indigenous people disproportionately impacted by toxic drugs in Northern Health

Indigenous people make up 14.8% of the population of Northern Health, yet 49.4% of toxic drug poisoning events and overdoses in 2022 were in that community.

This is according to the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), who are reporting 2022 was the worst year when it comes to toxic drug overdoses and deaths.

There were 373 drug-related Indigenous deaths during the year, an increase of 6.3% from the year before, and 5.9 times the rate of other BC residents.

70 of those deaths were recorded in Northern Health.

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The statistics are even more staggering in women, who died at 11.2 times the rate of other female residents.

In response the FNHA will be focusing more on harm reduction in women.

Some reasons the FNHA gave to understand the disproportionality: “unresolved traumas and harms due to residential schools and other government-led institutions, barriers to mental health and substance use treatments that are culturally safe and appropriate, and systemic racism in the BC health care systems are among the triggers that can cause First Nations people to use substances that may be tainted by toxic, potentially lethal elements.”

For more information, click here and here.

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