Pubdate: Wed, 18 Jan 2017
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2017 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Page: A6


A poll released today by Mainstream and Postmedia makes it clear that
Saskatchewan residents need to be educated on the dangers of drug use
to our population. Residents of cities across the country were asked,
"how closely have you been following the story of fentanyl, an opioid
drug?" In Saskatoon, 35 per cent of those surveyed answered "very or
somewhat." The number in Regina was slightly higher at 36 per cent.

This is an alarmingly low rate of awareness. The number of overdose
deaths from fentanyl and other similar drugs has risen dramatically in
Saskatchewan and across Canada in recent years. The number of people
who indicated they are following the story in other western cities is
much higher; 78 per cent in Vancouver, 55 per cent in Calgary and 58
per cent in Edmonton.

Saskatchewan members of the group Moms Stop the Harm, a national
network of parents and other family members who have lost a loved one
to drug use, is calling for more information about drug abuse to be
taught to students in grade schools and high schools and to be
distributed to their parents and community associations. This seems
like a good first step.

The poll found that 20 per cent of Regina residents and 21 per cent of
Saskatoon residents are not sure if they approve or disapprove of a
safe injection site being opened. It is clear that people need more
facts, as the concept of these kind of centres is growing across the
country and the federal government is making it easier for provinces
to put sites in place.

Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill recently talked about how access
to statistics on the effectiveness of safe injection sites has opened
his mind to the concept.

"If you were to ask two or three years ago, I was certainly opposed to
any form of a safe injection site ... I am moving along the line
toward acceptance," he said.

Another stat that must be remembered - even if it is not part of this
particular poll - is the HIV epidemic faced by Saskatchewan. Nearly
1,500 people have been diagnosed with the virus that causes AIDS in
the last decade. In the last decade, more than 200 people have died
while living with HIV.

The most common way people in Saskatchewan are infected with HIV is
through intravenous drug use. Education on the dangers of infection
seems like an obvious need in light of the pain and deaths experienced
by this problem.

Whether it is the issue of fentanyl, safe injection sites or HIV
rates, the numbers add up to a bottom line calling for an educational
campaign in the province to make sure citizens have the facts.
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