HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Changing The Public Discourse On Addiction
Pubdate: Fri, 09 Feb 2018
Source: Kelowna Capital News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018, West Partners Publishing Ltd.
Author: Barry Gerding


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.

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.

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
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