Northern Health has launched a text alert system to help address the toxic drug crisis.

The system send text alerts to your phone to help prevent drug poisonings and deaths. It also provides up-to-date resources to people who use drugs.

The health authority is encouraging people who use drugs, as well as those who support them, to opt in for toxic drug alerts by texting JOIN to ALERTS (253787). They will receive public health alerts, toxic drug, and drug poisoning alerts.

“As the toxic drug crisis continues to take lives, we need every tool in the toolbox to keep people safer,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Drug alerts in Northern communities means that more people will be able to take advantage of this critical tool to reduce their risk of drug poisonings and death.”

The system also lets subscribers anonymously submit information to help harm reduction teams – including dates and locations of overdoses, descriptions of the drug and packaging, the location where the drug was purchases, and what it is believed to be. This information can be submitted by texting using the keyword “OD.”

“The ability to incorporate the firsthand and witnessed knowledge of peers and partners, first responders and system subscribers is key to ensuring alerts are timely, and informative,” said Dr. Jong Kim, NH Chief Medical Health Officer.

Fraser, Interior, and Island Health already use the system, and have issued over 30 alerts since it was launched in May 2022. 2300 subscribers have signed on.

The technology was developed by the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Office of Virtual Health at Provincial Health Services Authority in partnership with regional health authorities.