Fraser Health launches new guide to tackle overdose crisis



FRASER Health is launching a new guide to help people have a conversation that could save a life. When Words Matter is a thorough, four-page guide to talking to someone you care about when you think they are struggling with substance use. The initiative is part of a new campaign which also includes a video and advertisements informed by focus groups.

The guide gives a detailed account of how to:

  • Prepare for a conversation
  • Begin the conversation
  • Keep calm and focused
  • Recover when a conversation doesn’t go well
  • Care for yourself as someone who is impacted by another’s substance use.

“One of the major issues faced by people struggling with substance use problems – and those around them – is discomfort and fear about talking about addiction openly,” said Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy. “We as a society must find a way to get past the profound stigma over addiction so that every person struggling with this issue gets the care they so desperately need. I encourage you to help stop the stigma by starting a conversation with your loved one who might need support, before it’s too late.”

Fraser Health consulted extensively with more than 50 people focusing on men who were in treatment, daytox or had completed treatment, as well as their support networks to inform the communication campaign. According to the BC Coroner’s Service, in British Columbia 91 per cent of illicit drug overdose deaths this year have been individuals aged 19 to 59. Of the 1,013 overdose deaths in 2017, 82 per cent have been male. Beginning today, the campaign titled “Overdose is closer than you think” will be displayed until mid-December in bus shelters, restaurants and bars, and on Fraser Health’s social media channels.

Medical Health Officer Dr. Aamir Bharmal.

“Starting a conversation about substance use is never easy, but approaching a person you care about to have a conversation could help save their life,” said Medical Health Officer Dr. Aamir Bharmal. “It may take time, but by checking in on a person you believe is using substances, and being open to talking about substance use in an empathetic way, you can help reduce their isolation and provide a more supportive environment for their recovery.”

In addition to the communications campaign, Fraser Health is launching a short video that depicts actors having conversations about substance use as well as tips. The posters, video and guide are posted on the overdose hub on our website and social media channels. 

For more information about the campaign and the work Fraser Health does to address the overdose crisis, please visit