Pubdate: Wed, 13 Apr 2016
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Page: A3
Copyright: 2016 Times Colonist
Author: Richard Watts
Cited: mumsDU:


Women, Determined To Stop Overdose Deaths, Will Be 'voice For 
Canadian Families'

A group of Canadian mothers who have lost children to narcotics plans 
to take on the world after a successful first step at home.

Calling themselves mumsDU, short for Moms united and mandated to 
saving the lives of Drug Users, the four Canadian women have been 
invited by the Canadian government to accompany its own 
representatives to New York.

Next week, the mothers will attend a United Nations General Assembly 
special session that is set to examine policies on illegal drugs. 
It's expected to attract representatives from more than 190 
countries, as well as many non-government organizations.

Leslie McBain of Pender Island, whose son Jordan died Feb. 4, 2014, 
with a combination of legal and illegal drugs in his system, said she 
and three others from mumsDU will all pay their own way.

"We'll be there to listen to learn and connect," McBain said. "But 
it's also really important that we have a presence there.

"We'll be there as a voice for Canadian families."

MumsDU was formed in 2015 by McBain and four other woman from across 
the country: Jennifer Woodside of Vancouver, Lorna Thomas of 
Edmonton, Petra Schulz from Mayne Island and Edmonton, and Donna May 
of Toronto.

All five had watched their children become addicted and die. All five 
had been frustrated at what they saw as lack of help for their 
children and others like them. And all five were determined to stop 
what they saw as needless deaths.

Their first lobby effort was to improve availability of the drug 
naloxone, an inexpensive antidote that counteracts the fatal 
suppression of breathing in so many overdose deaths.

An intramuscular injection can reverse the respiration slowdown 
caused by narcotics such as heroin in as little as three minutes.

Last month, mumsDU could claim at least a part victory when the 
federal government announced it would take naloxone off the list of 
drugs requiring prescriptions. As a British Columbian, McBain was 
proud when B.C. became the first province to make naloxone available 
for sale by pharmacists.

McBain said the UN conference has a much wider objective in mind.

The organization is looking to end the "war on drugs" in favour of a 
more humane approach to dealing with the harm caused by narcotics.

Thomas, Woodside, May and McBain have all been invited to sit on 
official panels at the conference.

McBain, a proponent of harm reduction, said she has come to the 
conclusion that it's more important to keep drug addicts alive than 
to penalize them.

But McBain admits that "harm reduction" has become synonymous with 
controversial programs such as supervised injection sites or legally 
prescribing narcotics such as heroin. It can be difficult for people 
to accept an injection site in their neighbourhoods, she said.

On the other hand, McBain said, criminalizing narcotics and declaring 
war on drugs has been an abysmal failure.

Addicts are dying on streets all over the world. Some countries, such 
as those in Central America, are awash in armed violence financed by 
narcotic producers.

McBain said at home, she tries to teach young people about the 
dangers of drugs without resorting to simplistic "just say no" messages.

Instead, she tells them the measures they can take to protect 
themselves and their friends - for example, learning how to use a naloxone kit.

She also continues to agitate for a more humane and medically based 
approach to dealing with drug addiction.

"With my son, there are things that could have been done," McBain 
said. "It's hindsight, you know.

"[But] we have to deal with what the reality is and try to shake all 
the stigma - that attitude that says: 'It's your own darn fault and 
you should just quit.' " 
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