Strathcona County is taking a step forward in fighting the opioid crisis.
On Monday (Nov.5), the county set up an exhibit at the community centre called Opioids Don’t Discriminate: An Interactive Experience.
The free-to-attend walk through takes people through the life of fictional characters who are addicted to drugs. The stories, based on real-life experiences, address the pervasive stigmas and judgments about people who use opioids, while strengthening empathy and understanding about substance use.
“We know stigma is one of the main reasons people avoid asking for support and treatment,” said mayor Rod Frank. “This interactive event challenges our assumptions about addictions, specifically related to opioids. While our ultimate goal is prevention through education, we also know that empathy and learning about addiction science equips us with a better understanding about the supports needed by those impacted by opioid use in our community.”
Through interactive elements, participants get the chance to learn about the science of addiction, impacts of opioids and how the crisis is affecting people locally, provincially and nationally.
Opioids are medication often prescribed by doctors for pain and can slow down heart rate and breathing. Opioids can be prescribed as pills, syrups, nasal sprays, skin patches, suppositories and liquid injections. The illegal use of fentanyl is part of the opioid crisis. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine and carfentanil is 100 times stronger than fentanyl.
From 2013 to near the end of 2017, there were 573 emergency department visits made to hospitals by Strathcona County residents for opioid use and other substance misuse. In general, 80 per cent of drug and alcohol related emergency department visits by county residents are opioid related.
Strathcona County received a $40,100 grant from Alberta Health’s Opioid Public Awareness Grants for Communities to develop a public opioid awareness campaign. In addition to the interactive experience from November 5-9, the public awareness campaign includes opioid information shared via local advertisements.