Vancouver Coastal Health reverts to new overdose text alert system for bad drugs

Vancouver Coastal Health is joining other health authorities in the province in a move to a unified provincial text alert system warning of toxic drugs.

Vancouver began its own system called Radar in 2017, while a toxic drug and health alert system developed by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control has been adopted by all other health districts in the last year. 

Those who want to get the alerts need to text the word “join” to 253787, and Vancouver Coastal says in a statement that anyone who receives the Radar messages will be automatically added to the provincewide alert for toxic drugs. 

Jennifer Whiteside, minister of mental health and addictions, says updating the toxic drug and health alert system will make it easier for people who use drugs to stay informed and safe in their communities. 

Vancouver Coastal says since it first launched the Radar program, an average of four alerts per month have been issued warning of substances associated with toxic drug overdoses. 

The B.C. government declared a public health emergency in 2016 as overdoses began to soar, and since then almost 12,000 people have died. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2023. 

The Canadian Press

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