Community-Engaged Solutions for Recognizing and Responding to Overdose-Induced Brain Injury

Toxic drug poisoning is British Columbia’s longest standing public health emergency. April 2023 marked the 31st consecutive month in which at least 150 lives were lost to unregulated drugs in BC, many of these deaths occurring on Vancouver Island. Research on hypoxic brain injury—a type of brain injury in which the brain does not get enough oxygen—after overdose survival, including work done by our team, raises two pressing questions: How do we recognize brain injury after non-fatal overdose occurs? And how do we best support individuals who experience brain injury after non-fatal overdose? Our proposed work aims to address these critical issues by leveraging the knowledge of researchers, people with lived experience of drug-related brain injuries, and community leaders who support them, to build priorities for future research and produce a community-driven list of recommendations for recognizing and responding to hypoxic brain injury after non-fatal overdose. Through a World Café workshop and follow-up prioritization survey and consensus meeting, our goal is to collaboratively create recommendations for research and practice, ensuring a comprehensive and inclusive approach to service provision on Vancouver Island.