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.

Just Posted

Trail house fire under investigation

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Fire Rescue responded early Monday

New head of library services at Trail Riverfront Centre

Samantha Murphy filled various positions at the Trail library over the past 5 years

St. Michael’s KIDS Care Centre and Little Saints kindergarten celebrated

Little Saints Junior Kindergarten will be ready to go this fall

Historic maps reveal obscure Arrow Lake place names

Place Names: Little-known Arrow Lakes names

A hint of NHL favoritism?

“There will certainly be lots of side stories, bottom stories, involved to draw my attention.”

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read