In Alberta, there is much discussion taking place concerning addiction, overdose and treatment. Part of the reason for this because of how the provincial government has chosen to address these issues.
Not surprisingly, many people are not in favour of the direction the government is taking. One of these individuals is Bonnie Larson, a doctor who has worked with people experiencing homelessness for 15 years.
According to Larson, “Alberta’s model is unique in that it excludes harm reduction from the continuum of care. As such, it is a system akin to an extension ladder that is missing the first 10 feet of rungs. Lacking entry-level steps that meet people where they are with non-judgmental care, patient-centredness and barrier-busting pragmatism, the ROSC ladder is impossible for most to even mount, let alone climb.”
With COVID-19 at the fore of many people’s minds, other things can be overlooked. Unfortunately, this is seemingly the case for drug overdoses. According to Avery Haines in her article, “‘Man, I’ve seen a lot of people die’: Canada’s other health crisis,”
In the first nine months of 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic, nearly 1,700 people died from overdoses in Ontario alone. That’s a 55 per cent increase over last year. In Alberta, during that same time period, more people died from overdoses than from COVID-19.
“Not my loved ones,” you might be thinking, and I hope you’re right. It’s certainly easier to believe, as I once did, that the opioid crisis is some far-off threat, like a flood or fire in another province. The reality is that it may be bigger and closer than many of us want to admit. (Excerpt from a cbc.ca opinion piece written by Katherine Steinhoff.)
Dr. Jeff Turnbull gets a hug from Shelley, a client, after she gave him a Christmas card, at the Temporary Enhanced Shelter Program at the Shepherds of Good Hope in Ottawa’s Lowertown neighbourhood, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. (Photograph by Justin Tang)
Have you heard of Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull? If not, reading the following will give you a sense of who he is and the important work he is doing.
“At 9:30 a.m. on a bitingly cold early-winter morning, Jeffrey Turnbull is preparing to head out on rounds. From a second-floor window in the ramshackle ofﬁces of Ottawa Inner City Health, the Peace Tower is visible in the distance, but Turnbull gestures out over the nearer, nondescript rooftops of Lowertown, describing the long-established homeless shelters there—and the new supervised injection clinic—that he’s about to visit.
A few minutes later, he’s parking his SUV outside the Shepherds of Good Hope, a shelter and soup kitchen, leading a small team that includes a mental health nurse into what they just call “the trailer.” It’s a former construction trailer set up recently behind “the Sheps,” ﬁtted out as a cramped but orderly space where drug addicts can inject themselves with health care workers standing by.
Even on this weekday morning, it’s busy. About 130 addicts used the trailer the previous day. Turnbull has a brief meeting with staff there, then strides next door to a clinic for homeless women…” Click here to read the full article from the Macleans.ca.
Delilah Saunders is critically ill and requires a liver transplant. Unfortunately, she has been deemed ineligible based on a past history of alcohol use. What are your thoughts about this decision and the associated protocol?
Much has been written in the news lately about Fentanyl, its effects and related addictions, overdoses, and fatalities. Unfortunately, there appears to be a new drug finding its way onto the scene. This drug, known as “Grey death,” is truly a mystery in terms of its contents and place of origin.
(CNN) — A new drug called “grey death” has been linked to a handful of lethal overdoses in the South — but no one knows exactly what’s in it or where it’s coming from. The drug, a mix of opioids, can kill in very small doses and looks like concrete mixing powder. “When I hear about something new like grey death, my first thought is, ‘Is there some novel compound we haven’t discovered yet?’ ” said Donna Iula, director of forensic chemistry at Cayman Chemical, a biotechnology company that works with federal and state crime labs to identify unknown street drugs.
Source: ‘Grey death:’ The powerfully fatal new drug that’s puzzling authorities
The following was submitted by a member of the Patient 4 Change community. Thanks Shannon.
“Sharing this to help bring some context and understanding to the opioid crisis. This documentary is filmed in Alberta with a focus on Calgary and the Blood Tribe Reserve.
While the focus here is on long term users who are buying illegally – it’s really important to know that Alberta’s prescribing practices for opioid painkillers are mind boggling. Last year there were 1.8 million RXs written for opioids. Alberta’s population is 4.9 million. We are the highest opioid RX jurisdiction in the world.”
The following quotation is from Robert, an individual who knows first hand what it is like to be addicted to drugs. As you read his words, ask yourself the following question. “What can we do, individually and collectively, to provide assistance to Robert and others? Now is not the time to ignore the current addiction crisis or pretend it does not exist. We have to do something, but what?”
“I’m tired of doing this…I don’t know what’s keeping me going. My family is like, Robert, what are you doing? My cousins are like, Robert, you’re a loser. I’ve heard it all, and they’re right. What have I done? I haven’t done s—. You try to regroup, you hear your grandson’s voice …”
“We need a little more compassion, a little more sensitivity, and not so much judging. I’m not going to be a poster boy, but walk a mile in my shoes, man.” (Toronto Star)