Online survey on stigma around drug use launched in Kamloops | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops News

Online survey on stigma around drug use launched in Kamloops

A drug user heating up a meth pipe.

Social stigma has been identified as one of the major contributing factors in unintentional illicit drug toxicity deaths.

Several organizations came together and recently launched a Public Stigma Assessment survey to better understand public perspectives of both illegal and legal substance use, headed by Addiction Matters Kamloops.

“Unintentional illicit drug toxicity deaths continue to be on the rise in B.C.,” United Way coordinator and chair of the Kamloops Community Action Team Natika Bock said. “Stigma has been identified as one of the major contributing factors because it isolates those who use substances and prevents them from seeking medical support.”

READ MORE: More females, older drug users dying due to unregulated drug market: B.C. coroner

Community members are encouraged to complete the online survey to help guide future initiatives to reduce stigma, improve access to care and save lives. After a clearer picture is established, the organization will be able to create tailored educational pieces and open up a broader conversation.

“We are seeing mostly a black and white response to illicit substance use on social media,” Bock said. “There are people who have compassion and want to help, and there are people who are strongly against drug use. We are hoping everyone will contribute their perspectives.”

Addictions affect all people and cross all social-economic boundaries.

“Anyone is vulnerable,” Bock said. “A lot of people are passing away using behind closed doors and if there is a way we can offer support to those folks we want to figure out how.”

There are many reasons why some people keep their addictions hidden and refrain for reaching out for treatment.

“Shame, guilt, fear of losing jobs, friends and family are some,” Bock said. “Losing custody of children is a big one, especially for single moms. There is a risk of embarrassment and letting other people down. Sometimes a housing arrangement is at risk.”

READ MORE: B.C. to join small group of jurisdictions with decriminalization of hard drugs

Bock said the plan is to continue going forward with the project and look at other, similar studies across the country.

“We can look at building outreach resources for folks, gather numbers and trends and build up some regionally specific programs.”

Addiction Matters is a subcommittee of the Community Action Team that is provincially funded to respond to the overdose crisis, since the onset of the crisis six years ago.

“As chair of the Kamloops Community Action Team, it is clear to me that we need to better understand the stigma that exists in our community so we can address it properly,” Bock said.

Community Action Team and the Ministry of Mental Health partnered with Urban Matters, the addictions and the Overdose Emergency Response Centre to launch the survey.

The survey takes approximately five to 10 minutes to complete and will be available until July 12, 2022.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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