How can we change the public discussion on drug addiction?

To fight the opioid epidemic will take altering people’s thoughts around drug abuse

The way people feel about drug addiction has evolved significantly since the outbreak of the fentanyl crisis.

But the shift from viewing addiction as a moral problem to treating it like any other health issue is a work in progress, says Rae Samson, a substance abuse worker at Interior Health.

“I’m not sure if we are a generation away from making that shift, but a lot of work has been dedicated to that purpose in the past 20 years with tremendous gains. But there have been really rapid gains since the opioid crisis began,” Samson said.

“Over the past year, you have heard a very different conversation than you would have heard the year before that.”

Samson was responding to question from chair Doug Cochrane at the Interior Health board meeting on Tuesday in Kelowna, asking what the public can do to help change the way people view drug addiction.

Related: Study says family doctors should be trained to help drug-addicted patients

Samson said there is a two-pronged answer to Cochrane’s question. One aspect is from health care providers to break down barriers of communication surrounding drug addiction issues.

She said the impact goes beyond patients.

“Ourselves along with family members all feel the impact of people we know with drug addictions in one way or another. An important part of destigmatizing drug addiction is to bring those discussions out of the shadows, to discuss it in a forthright way like we would any other health issue.”

Samson said with the opioid crisis and the stakes being so high, more people are engaging in that conversation openly than in past years.

Related: Gambling and drug addicts share similar brain activity

The other aspect involves physicians willing to engage in addiction struggles their patients might be facing in a meaningful way.

“That can be a difficult conversation for a patient to have with their doctor, and the physician may be reluctant as well because they might not be sure where to guide their patient struggling with an addiction to seek help.”

Samson said IH is working with physicians to educate them about all of the care options available and work collaboratively to be a key part of that process.

She added IH has also started a pilot project in several communities across the region to provide drug analysis using a strip test to determine fentanyl content.

Samson said the service provides a variety of options for the individual such as to choose not use the substance or take appropriate precautions should an overdose occur.

The service is available at the mobile drug consumption services in Kelowna and Kamloops, and was set up at a test station for the Shambhala Music Festival near Nelson last summer.

“This is a huge change in thinking, moving away from the ‘Just say no to drugs’ concept because evidence has shown that to be highly ineffective to offering people choices and making informed decisions about their health care in the same way we would any other health care issue.”

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Gold for Kelowna’s Kelsey Serwa

Kelsey Serwa wins the gold medal in thrilling fashion in PyeongChang

Property crime numbers up at end of 2017

Police release details on files worked last six months of 2017

Okanagan real estate agents brace for speculation tax impact

“There’s a real potential for a domino effect to hurt the market in Kelowna.”

Nature Wise: Nature photography contest opens soon

South Okanagan Naturalists’ Club nature photo contest open residents of the RDOS

Police act fast, arrests made in donation jar theft

A donation jar at a Keremeos gas station was stolen, police make arrest within 24 hours

VIDEO: B.C. superfans soak in 2018 PyeongChang Olympics

Trio, including two from the Okanagan, have been cheering on Summerland Olympian Kripps among others in Korea

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

More snow expected on the Coquihalla, Highway 3

Environment Canada says five to 10 centimetres will come down between Friday and Saturday mornings

New charges against ex-Trump campaign associates

More charges were laid Thursday against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and his business associate

Man accused in death of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine not guilty

Raymond Cormier was accused of killing Indigenous 15-year-old and dumping her body in the Red River

Alberta drops B.C. wine boycott, Notley says Horgan ‘blinked’ on pipeline

B.C. government announces court reference on proposed diluted bitumen restriction

UPDATE: Northern Health dealing with lack of 121 registered nurses

Auditor General says officials need to improve internal management, track effect of new policies

B.C. businesses say new health tax will raise prices for consumers

Province announced that MSP will be gone by 2020

Barnful of ducks die in early morning blaze

The cause of the fire is unknown

Most Read