Canucks launch drug cam­paign

The Prince George Citizen - - News -

NHL play­ers have sup­ported team­mates through sub­stance use, and now it’s time for the Van­cou­ver Canucks to ac­knowl­edge fans bat­tling their own ad­dic­tion is­sues, re­tired goalie Kirk McLean says.

McLean is the am­bas­sador of an aware­ness cam­paign the Canucks an­nounced Mon­day by plac­ing two ads around Rogers Arena. They each fea­ture a man and a woman and the tagline: “Peo­ple who use drugs are real peo­ple. Get in­volved. Get in­formed. Get help.”

The cam­paign is in part­ner­ship with the prov­ince’s Men­tal Health and Ad­dic­tions Min­istry, which will also in­clude mes­sages on tele­vi­sion, so­cial me­dia and bill­boards.

Bri­tish Columbia de­clared a pub­lic health emer­gency in 2016 be­cause of an un­prece­dented num­ber of over­dose deaths.

The B.C. Coroners Ser­vice recorded 1,208 fa­tal over­doses be­tween Jan­uary and Oc­to­ber last year. The pow­er­ful opi­oid fen­tanyl was de­tected in 999 of the con­firmed and sus­pected deaths dur­ing that time, an in­crease of 136 per cent from the same pe­riod in 2016.

McLean stood in the stands on Mon­day dur­ing a Canucks prac­tice as play­ers saluted first re­spon­ders in­clud­ing paramedics and fire­fight­ers who are of­ten on the front lines re­viv­ing peo­ple who have over­dosed.

He said he’s hop­ing the ads will spark con­ver­sa­tions among friends and fam­i­lies as they at­tend Canucks games so the stigma at­tached to il­licit drug use is bro­ken, among pro­fes­sional ath­letes too.

“Hope­fully peo­ple take no­tice and we use this celebri­ty­ism, so to speak, to say: ‘Lis­ten, ath­letes have is­sues too. They’re just like every­body else. Yes, we put them up on pedestal but some go home and have to deal with drug abuse and men­tal health is­sues and hi­ber­nate in their homes by them­selves.’ ”

Three of McLean’s for­mer team­mates suf­fered through men­tal health is­sues and ad­dic­tion to drugs and al­co­hol, in­clud­ing one who was sui­ci­dal, said McLean, who re­tired in 2001.

“It was scary, it was hard core” he said. “Some days we weren’t sure if we were go­ing to see them again.”

Men­tal Health and Ad­dic­tions Min­is­ter Judy Darcy said the cam­paign is meant to leave a pow­er­ful im­pres­sion on peo­ple who could help oth­ers strug­gling in si­lence.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.