Pubdate: Thu, 31 Aug 2017
Source: Cape Breton Post (CN NS)
Copyright: 2017 Cape Breton Post
Author: Nikki Sullivan
Page: A1


Event aims to break stigma around overdose and drug use

About 75 Cape Bretoners gathered at Wentworth Park Bandshell on
Thursday to pay tribute to loved ones who died by drug overdose or who
are struggling with addiction.

Tears flowed and people could be heard quietly sobbing and sniffing
during the Overdose Awareness Day event, especially when the names of
people who died of drug overdoses were being called out.

Antoinette Murphy, who lost her son to an overdose five months ago,
was there with her three daughters and a granddaughter.

It was hard for her or her daughters to talk without tears taking over
because their loss is still "too fresh."

But all of them say there's not enough help for people suffering from

"My son, he was in (detox) for maybe a couple of weeks, a month? Then
sent out. With nothingÂ…" said Murphy, as she trailed off, eyes welling

One of her daughters, who wanted to stay anonymous added: "They put
them in detox for two weeks, put them on methadone, wean them off and
then put them back out on the street with nothing. No help."

Sydney Maclean, 19, was there because she has been touched by
addiction her whole life.

"My mother went through a hard time with addiction. So I was taken
from her at a young age," she explained. "I have friends who are
struggling with addictions, a couple have come close to

Maclean, who cried on and off during the event, admitted at one point
she dabbled in drugs but never got into "hard stuff" and doesn't use

"I have had a lot of things that have happened to me and I've seen a
lot when it comes to drug abuse. So I go to the Ally Centre and I
thought I would come up here and help out and volunteer."

The Ally Centre of Cape Breton, Mental Health and Addictions and the
Jane Paul Indigenous Women's Resource Centre put on the event. The
goal was to help end the stigma surrounding drug use and overdose and
to bring awareness to overdose prevention and the opioid crisis in
Cape Breton.

Laura Chapman, health promotion specialist with Mental Health and
Addictions, could be seen wiping tears from her eyes during the
opening smudging ceremony and the name reading.

"I have been touched by overdose myself. Both personally and
professionally with clients," she explained. "This event is really
important because overdose and drug use are really stigmatized. People
don't want to talk about it. So this gives an opportunity to talk
about it and show it really has an impact on people and their loved

Beth Miller, director of the Jane Paul Centre, agrees the stigma
surrounding drug use and overdose is hindering progress when it comes
to helping addicts and their families.

"This event brings it to the forefront so people can see it is a real
issue, it has become a real problem. Our community needs to come
together to support each other and help each other," she said.

"There shouldn't be a stigma attached to overdose. It's real people
facing real issues. Chances are you know someone who has overdosed at
one time."

Miller and Chapman hope the event will encourage more people to get
their Naloxone training and kits and learn how they can help someone
who maybe overdosing.

"Naloxone gives people time to call 911. It isn't a cure for an opioid
overdose," explained Chapman.

Naloxone kits are expected to be available for free at pharmacies
across Nova Scotia on September 1.

To register for Naloxone training, call the Naloxone line at
902-574-3342. The Ally Centre also does the training and can be
reached at 902-5671766.
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