August 31, 2016 - 2:30 PM
KAMLOOPS - The Kamloops Farmers’s Market had an extra tent set up today, Aug. 31, as people involved with combatting drug overdoses spoke to the public during the busy weekday market.
The tent, a part of International Overdose Awareness Day, was set up to help raise awareness not just about overdoses in the community, but what can be done to help and support those with addictions, their friends and their family. It was hosted by the Phoenix Centre, along with community members affected by overdoses and people involved with the support network.
Sherry Robinson, a mother who lost her son to overdose in January and helped organize the event, says the tent was to help educate people about a broad range of addictions issues.
“It’s about awareness; about the reality of overdose,” she says. “What are the symptoms and signs of substance use, and how to reach out for help.”
She describes the current situation as a crisis across North America. B.C.’s provincial medical health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, declared a public health emergency due to overdose deaths in April.
Nurses were on hand to show how to inject Naloxone, the overdose reversing treatment. Petitions were also available for the public to sign, in support of a safe consumption site and regulating pill presses. Both issues will help reduce overdoses in B.C., Robinson says. Community members who've lost loved ones due to overdoes were also on hand to speak about their experiences and the support network.
Public education about addictions and overdoses is essential, according to private counsellor Jeff Conners. He spoke to people about a variety of subjects, including prevention of addictions and talking to friends and family members about an addiction.
“There’s this whole thing around trying to move upstream and trying to prevent people from developing these problems,” he says. “That happens in a number of areas: Housing is part of that, food and nutrition, security.”
A safe consumption site would be great, he says, but a support system is needed to make it viable, including broad public education. The issues are made more complex by mental health and the diverse personalities of the people involved in each case.
“Every person is different,” he says. “It is complicated, it’s not easy and there’s no right answers for this stuff.”
An International Overdose Awareness Day vigil will be held at Riverside Park at 8:30 p.m. for those who wish to participate. Organizers are asking people to bring their own candles.
For those looking for information on addictions help and support for families and friends of people with drug addictions can visit the ASK Wellness website.
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