Pubdate: Fri, 01 Sep 2017
Source: Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Andrea Peacock
Page: A3


Helen Jennens knows first-hand the devastation drug overdoses bring to

In 2011, Jennens' eldest son Rian died from a prescription drug
overdose. Five years later, she lost her second son Tyler to a
fentanyl overdose.

Jennens, in partnership with the local Moms Stop the Harm group,
organized a drug overdose awareness day at Evangel Church in Kelowna
on Thursday.

"It is to commemorate the lives we've lost and give them dignity . . .
while raising awareness," said Jennens. "Unless you're touched by it,
you don't understand it (and) you don't have the desire to understand.
We are losing lives at an alarming rate."

Hundreds of people came out to the overdose awareness event to share
their perspective on the overdose crisis, including Dr. Jeff Eppler,
an emergency physician at Kelowna General Hospital.

"I've seen more overdoses in the last year-and-a-half or two years
than I've seen in the previous 20," said Eppler. "I just finished a
night shift and I treated two overdoses. Most shifts I work, I treat
someone with an overdose or some kind of substance-abuse-related concern."

Physicians have an important role to play in fighting the overdose
crisis, he said.

"As physicians, we need to try not to contribute to creating people
who are addicted to opioids," said Eppler. "It's very easy to say
that, but it's very difficult when someone with a chronic pain issue
comes to you and you don't have a lot of things to offer them. It
would be nice if we had more tools in our tool kit to offer people
with chronic pain."

There also needs to be more resources available for people who are
suffering from drug addictions, he said.

"Some of these people are going to recover, and we need to support
those people in making sure that when someone makes a decision that
they want to go into recovery that there's a facility available for
them," said Eppler. "We have to look after people who are addicted to
make sure they stay safe."

A big part of fighting the overdose crisis is changing the way society
views people with addictions, said Eppler.

"We have to stop looking at people with opioid addictions as morally
weak or failures or criminals," he said. "We have to view them as
people with an illness."
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