Within a single society, values and opinions can diverge substantially on the issues of substance use, addiction and overdose. Our values and opinions are shaped by a number of things including our experiences. This article contains my values and opinion based on my experiences… Hopefully it sparks some conversation.
When it comes to talking about overdose, many community fall silent. Terms such as “druggie”, “failure” and even “addict” dehumanize those who live with addiction, which made it challenging this month for me to find someone to share their story. So instead of hearing from someone with lived experience, imagine this…
Imagine being a child and your parent starts vomiting after a night of drinking.
Imagine trying a drug for the first time and ending up in the hospital, or worse.
Imagine losing a loved one and being afraid to tell someone how it happened.
We live in a world where these things are happening to our friends, our coworkers, our families and to ourselves… and we’re afraid to talk about it or do anything about it. Is this why so many people are still dying?
I write this column with tears in my eyes and an inability to truly express how the topic of overdose makes me feel.
I feel frustrated and helpless. I feel knowledgeable, yet powerless. I feel compassion and fear. I feel I understand and then I don’t. I can’t imagine living a life with an addiction… and yet, at the same time, I can see how quickly and easily it can happen.
We all live as best we can. There is so much that we all experience at different stages of our lives and some of those stages involve suffering. Forcing someone to suffer in silence because they fear rejection, judgment, and stigma only makes the struggle feel so much heavier than it already is.
Love, a compassionate ear, an acknowledgment of their reality and acceptance of the stage of someone’s life that they might be at might be just what someone needs. It might not be your desired future, but it’s someone’s life.
Adding the stress of guilt to someone else’s life does not support change. Keeping people alive and safe long enough for the possibility of change and supporting them through this change is the answer. Don’t assume to know everything; open your ears, ask questions, have a dialogue.
August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day. What can you do?
Attend public training or go to Public Health, the Pharmacy or the Medical Clinic to learn more about how to recognize the signs of an overdose, find information on harm reduction materials, and learn how to use a Naloxone kit. Naloxone kits are available free of charge. This medication can temporarily reverse the effects of an overdose caused by some narcotics until help arrives. Public Health 250-814-2244.
Follow Revelstoke CYMHSU’s Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter accounts to find information on upcoming events happening in Revelstoke.
Find a resource that you can trust and keep the number of a crisis line saved in your phone www.RevelstokeCYMHSU.ca
Learn more about supports in Revelstoke like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous www.aarevelstoke.com
Visit www.ankors.bc.ca for information on drug checking.
Get the OD Hero app.
In an Emergency, call 911.
Hopefully this column will spark more conversations in our community. Let’s see past substance use, past mental health and see everyone for the similarity that we share-being human. Because of this, you just might save a life.
If you have a story to share, contact Stacie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-200-0022.
Stacie Byrne is the Project Lead for the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use (CYMHSU) Local Action Team, which is a part of a larger Provincial Collaborative working together to support people between the ages of 6-24 years old and their families with mental health and substance use challenges. The Collaborative works with Service Providers and the community to share how all of the pieces of the recovery puzzle fit together and what is available within and outside of Revelstoke.