Relapses are an initial common occurrence in the substance abuse treatment process. (Contributed)

Relapses are an initial common occurrence in the substance abuse treatment process. (Contributed)

Part five: The opioid crisis and the North Okanagan

Combatting the stigma surrounding the opioid crisis

In light of the national opioid crisis, Interior Health is asking the public to respond with more compassion in the hopes to help appeal to and transition more people into treatment and recovery.

Dr. Karin Goodison, a Vernon public health officer who works with Interior Health, said that stigma plays a significant role in people’s ability to access services safely.

“We have a lot of work to do in the way of how we view people who use substances,” she said.

Megan Desimone, manager of mental health and substance use services for Vernon Interior Health, agreed.

“Shame and stigmatization is very isolating and it keeps people in these silos and they don’t reach out for help for fear of what the ramifications will be,” Desimone said.

Perhaps one of the most highly debated treatments offered by Interior Health is opioid agonist therapy (OAT). OAT is a treatment for dependency for different types of opioids including heroin, oxycodone, and fentanyl. The therapy involves taking the medications methadone or suboxone to prevent the effects of withdrawal and reduce cravings for opioids.

Methadone treats chronic pain and opioid addiction while suboxone treats opioid dependence only.

“We have the downtown methadone clinic and our staff are embedded in that clinic,” said Desimone.

“It’s a nurse and a support worker and their whole focus is to get people into the program or maintain those who are already in the program.”

Turning Points’ Bill’s Place is a sober living home operating in Vernon.

Brad Houghton, manager of addiction services at Turning Points, said he sees a need for methadone in helping people get sober, but explained that Bill’s Place will not accept people taking methadone.

They will, however, accept people on suboxone.

“We take people on suboxone because it’s a partial agonist. Methadone is a full agonist and really what that means is that on methadone, your brain thinks you’re high,” he said.

“It’s a synthetic opiate so we won’t take someone at Bill’s Place on methadone because it’s an abstinence-based program.”

James (name changed to protect his identity and safety) is a former heroin addict, alcoholic and eventual meth user.

He used methadone as a catalyst to sobriety.

“People do say that you’re not clean if you’re on methadone but if it works for that person, then why not?” he asked.

“Eventually I got used to not being high and then I quit the methadone but a lot of people stay on it forever.”

James has also felt the negative affects of stigma in the face of his addiction. Though he thinks Vernon has made huge strides in the “right direction” in recent years, he still hopes his story has impact and helps shed some light on the struggle many face.

“You never know what somebody has been through so to judge them is pretty hurtful because you could be in their shoes tomorrow,” he said.

“I used to look down on the people downtown because I had a lot of money and I had a family at home but there I was, right next to them, doing the same thing. All I can say is that it happens fast.”

James has relapsed in the past but has successfully remained sober for over two years.

Today, having successfully graduated from Bill’s Place, he prides himself as being a good father.

“I think once we change the stigma around what it is we’re dealing with and if we could get our minds around the idea that these people are sick, then we’ll all be better for it, ” said Houghton. “It would amazing to live in a community that could provide help for the people who are hopeless.”

Part One: The opioid crisis and the B.C. Interior

Part Two: Overdoses overwhelming in B.C. Interior

Part Three: Services offered to combat Vernon’s opioid crisis

Part Four: The opioid crisis and the B.C. Interior

To report a typo, email:
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com
.



Follow me on Twitter @BrieChar
Email me brieanna.charlebois@vernonmorningstar.com
Like us on Facebook.

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

Just Posted

RCMP Cpl. Cory Lepine pictured at BC Livestock Producers Co. in Kamloops, Nov. 16. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Meet B.C.’s only cowboy cop; a voice for the livestock industry

Cpl. Cory Lepine serves as a bridge between the law and those who make a living off the land

The person behind @revelstokecharm said this community provides good fudder for memes because there is a big concentration of people that don’t take themselves too seriously, and also a great concentration of people that take themselves way too seriously. (Instagram)
Review interviews the mysterious meme maker behind @revelstokecharm

The Instagram account is a popular page that parodies local happenings

Revelstoke Mountain Resort was voted Best Ski Resort in Canada in the 2020 World Ski Awards. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Revelstoke Mountain Resort voted best in Canada

The World Ski Awards announced the 2020 winners

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League is mouring the death of former president Len Dergousoff of Salmon Arm. The longtime Revelstoke Grizziies board member, who was president from 1999-2002, lost a year-long battle with cancer at age 80. (Dergousoff family photo)
Former KIJHL president dies after cancer battle

Len Dergousoff, 80, of Salmon Arm, was longtime Revelstoke Grizzlies exec, president 1999-2002

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

This homemade, hand-painted five-foot-high Grinch was taken from an outdoor Christmas display at a home near Fulton Secondary Sunday evening, Nov. 22. (Photo submitted)
Grinch steals Grinch from Vernon Christmas display

Owners saddened by theft of beloved homemade five-foot-high Grinch display from yard near Fulton

Penticton RCMP are looking to speak to this woman who allegedly spat on an employee at Skaha Liquor Store as well as dropping his phone on the ground. (Facebook)
WATCH: Unmasked Okanagan woman allegedly spits on employee, drops his phone

Penticton RCMP are looking for the woman who was refused service for not wearing a mask

Jason Townsend, wearing his Kelowna prospect patches. (Jason Townsend Facebook photo)
Trial dates set for two alleged Kelowna Hells Angels associates

Jason Townsend and Colin Michael Bayley will each stand trial on separate matters in May 2021

This 2019 photo provided by The ALS Association shows Pat Quinn. Quinn, a co-founder of the viral ice bucket challenge, died Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, at the age of 37. (Scott Kauffman/The ALS Association via AP)
Co-founder of viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dies at 37

Pat Quinn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti speaks with the media following party caucus in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental health as grounds for assisted death is likely temporary: Lametti

Senators also suggested the exclusion renders the bill unconstitutional

Claudio Mastronardi, Toronto branch manager at Carmichael Engineering, is photographed at the company’s offices in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. As indoor air quality becomes a major concern in places of business, HVAC companies are struggling to keep up with demand for high quality filtration systems. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Business is booming for HVAC companies as commercial buildings see pandemic upgrades

‘The demand right now is very high. People are putting their health and safety ahead of cost’

Bank of Montreal, located on Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver. (Google Maps)
Heiltsuk man files human rights complaint against Vancouver police, BMO after bank arrest

Pair remains distraught after employee falsely reports fraud in progress leading to their arrest

LeAnne Jakubeit, a prominent Penticton business woman and wife of former Penticton mayor Andrew Jakubeit, has died after a battle with cancer. Her death was announced Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020 on The Grooveyard’s Facebook page. (The Grooveyard / Facebook)
Prominent Penticton businesswoman dies after battle with cancer

LeAnne Jakubeit opened iconic Penticton record store The Grooveyard 30 years ago

Most Read