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Canucks help fight stigma of addiction in new public awareness campaign

The Vancouver Canucks hockey team and the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions are joining together to combat stigma around substance use

The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks are helping launch a public awareness campaign to fight the stigma associated with substance abuse at a time when British Columbia is mired in an overdose crisis.

The provincial government’s campaign includes messages that will be broadcast on television, shown online, on social media and on billboards.

The campaign will be highlighted at Canucks home games and at other events at Rogers Arena, such as concerts, until June.

Judy Darcy, the minister of mental health and addictions, says the stigma surrounding addiction is leading to deaths in the province.

The public awareness campaign shows addiction can affect anyone and it asks people to stop seeing addiction as a “moral failure” and instead as a health issue.

British Columbia declared a public health emergency in 2016 because of the overdose epidemic.

Related: Canucks Playroom offers fun space for sick kids at BC Children’s Hospital

Related: Nine suspected fatal overdoses over five days

The latest figures from the BC 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.

“Addiction is often a response to deep pain or trauma, and stigma drives our loved ones to act and live in dark silence,” Darcy said Monday in a statement. “We need to knock down the walls of silence and encourage courageous conversations between friends, family and co-workers struggling with substance use, so they feel supported in seeking treatment and recovery.”

Kirk McLean, a retired Canucks goaltender, said people are losing family members, friends and neighbours.

“It’s been absolutely devastating to watch this crisis unfold right in our backyard,” he said in a news release.

The Canadian Press

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