B.C.’s chief coroner Lisa Lapointe (Black Press files)

Scare tactics aren’t the answer for overdose crisis, B.C.’s chief coroner says

Lisa Lapointe urges caution in response to B.C. funeral chain’s ‘visual’ fentanyl prevention campaign

B.C.’s chief coroner Lisa Lapointe says scare tacticts are not effective when it comes to combating the overdose crisis, following the launch of a “very visual” fentanyl prevention program by a B.C. funeral chain.

On Thursday, Metro-Vancouver-based Alternatives Funeral and Cremation Services kicked off the campaign, with owner Tyrel Burton described as using “powerful, perhaps even controversial, visual aids” to talk about the dangers of fentanyl.

In addition to a 45-minute video – which the funeral chain said would include members of the BC Coroners, first responders and parents effected by the crisis, the campaign also includes a poster of grieving family members surrounding a coffin. Underneath the photo, a banner reads: “Will fentanyl be the reason for your next family get-together?”

READ MORE: Funeral chain creates visual campaign to show dangers of fentanyl

READ MORE: Carfentanil detected in 37 deaths between June and September

In a written statement on the B.C. government’s website, Lapointe said that while public education and awareness is important, “the BC Coroners Service does not endorse, and will not be participating in, fear-based initiatives.”

“Evidence suggests that the reasons for drug use are complex and multifaceted, and programs focused on scaring people from using drugs, are not effective in saving lives,” she said.

“Additionally, they tend to increase the stigma surrounding drug use and actually discourage people from seeking help – an obsolete approach that has led to the loss of countless lives.”

Lapointe also urges caution and strategy when awareness campaigns rely on image use, and points to research from several academic studies that suggest mass media campaigns and public service announcements showed no evidence of effectiveness for substance use prevention.

“In the United States, the ‘Just Say No’ and D.A.R.E. campaigns produced poor results,” Lapointe said, and that a 2008 follow-up study on the $1-billion campaign found it had no positive effects on youth and may have prompted some to actually experiment with substance use.

“The experiences and life situations of people who use drugs, as well as the physiological changes they experience, means they might not be ready or able to engage with the overdose prevention strategies suggested in the some of the ads that currently exist,” she said.

“We need to be aware of peoples’ realities and be realistic about what change they are capable of for the stage they are at in their lives. In the long run, compassion and support, including prescribed medical treatment where appropriate, will be much more effective in turning this crisis around than fear and shame.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

One dead in Balfour house fire

Police are investigating, calling the fire ‘suspicious’

Nelson and COVID-19: everything you need to know

Check this page for every local story related to the outbreak

Canadian police to make home visits to enforce mandatory quarantine for travellers

Police forces have been asked to help verify Canadians are complying with the Quarantine Act

Nelson residents arrive home from quarantine in Peru

Greg Smith, Laurel Conley and Veronica Holman were travelling in Peru before the COVID-19 pandemic

LETTER: Keep smiling and whirling

From reader Allan A. Chalmers

VIDEO: Easter festivities may be scaled back, but it can still be a fun holiday

COVID-19 circumstances have dictated that the holidays may not be perfect

B.C. artist erects 15-foot statue and names it COVID

Decades of collecting spare parts culminated in folk art towering over a country road

B.C. jails grant early release for close to 100 inmates due to COVID-19

The move, which impacts offenders serving intermittent sentences, is to prevent spread of virus

COVID-19 world update: U.S. to start antibody tests; drones enforce lockdown in Italy

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news from around the world

Lower Mainland hunting store sees 200% increase in firearm sales

Co-owner of Wanstalls says increase due to a variety of reasons

People needing addiction services feeling ‘abandoned’ during pandemic

The province is trying to increase access to addiction care through a phone line of experts, doctors

COVID-19: B.C. ER nurse self-isolates in travel trailer, apart from family

Marcia Kent says situation is difficult but worth it to keep twin boys safe

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

Most Read