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B.C. needs more support for drug overdose survivors, caregivers: advocate

Last Updated Oct 21, 2020 at 4:13 pm PST

A naloxone anti-overdose kit is shown in Vancouver, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

The co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm says more needs to be done to support survivors of drug overdoses who need care

Leslie McBain says many families are caring for loved ones who suffered permanent brain damage because of an overdose

More than 1,200 people in B.C. have died from a drug overdose this year alone

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Not enough is being done to support survivors of drug overdoses in need of long-term care and their caregivers, according to a grieving B.C. mother.

Leslie McBain lost her son, Jordan, to a drug overdose six years ago and now spends most of her time helping families with loved ones who require life-long care.

“I have never heard a word about financial support for caregivers –the families taking care of these folks for life,” she says.

McBain is the co-founder of the group Moms Stop the Harm and works with the BC Centre on Substance Use. She says many caregivers are struggling to support those with permanent brain damage as a result of an overdose.

“We have some moms in our organization for whom this is the situation,” she says. “The families end up, essentially for life, caring for these individuals who may not be able to work, who may not be able to have their full brain power and so, are really compromised.”

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McBain says the fact more than 1,200 people have died from overdoses in B.C. this year only tells part of the story.

“There is very little being done to support people who don’t die but have been without oxygen for minutes. There’s no fix for that,” she says.

“The toll that takes on the family. The toll that takes on the caregiver is profound.”

Former housing minister Selina Robinson says plans to re-develop the Riverview hospital lands in Coquitlam include some supportive housing, but nothing has been finalized yet.

There are also some care homes in B.C. that offer support for individuals with brain injuries and GF Strong offers resources as well.

McBain says she’s waiting to hear what more will be done to help victims who don’t die, but she does urge voters against spending their tax dollars on safe drug supplies to reconsider.

“It will cost huge expenses. If they can’t see their way past stigma, then they should wonder what they’re paying for because they don’t believe in all the harm reduction that we know helps.”