26 May Opioid forum aims to help protect community
A public forum being held in Sarnia Thursday is aimed at helping residents learn how to recognize when family or friends are at risk because of illicit drug use.
Speakers from the Bluewater Health Emergency Department and Addiction Services, as well as Lambton Emergency Medical Services, Lambton Public Health and Sarnia Police are scheduled to take part, and answer questions from the audience.
It’s set for 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Unifor Local 914 Hall, 900 Devine St.
“Addition and overdoses are a serious, ongoing issue in our community, and illegal street drugs have never been more toxic,” Livia Manica, manager of Addiction Services at the hospital said in a news release.
“The forum is a way of dispelling mistruths, informing the public, and protecting people in our community.”
There were eight opioid-related deaths in Lambton County, which includes Sarnia, between January and September 2018, the release said.
Thursday’s forum was arranged before Friday’s incident at the Sarnia Jail were several inmates overdosed and were taken to hospital, along with corrections officers exposed to the drug while they were responding to the emergency.
Bluewater Health said the forum was organized because area residents have expressed concern with the recent spike in overdoses and arrests for illicit drugs, including fentanyl and methamphetamine, and have been seeking current and accurate information from front-line workers.
Along with information, free Naloxone kits will be available at the forum.
Naloxone is a medication which can prevent deaths by temporarily reversing the effects of opioids.
“Keep an Naloxone kit in your back pocket,” said Sarnia’s Laurie Hicks, who lost her son Ryan to a fentanyl overdose a few years ago, and is an advocate for services to help those struggling with addiction.
“I think everybody should have one, whether somebody in your family is suffering, or whether you are . . . they’re life-saving.”
With fentanyl commonly added to other street drugs “it’s a game of Russian roulette every time you use,” Hicks said.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine or heroin.
“Our community has a big problem,” Hicks said.
But, she added, Sarnia isn’t alone struggling with the impact of the opioid crisis.
“It’s everywhere,” she said.
Hicks said help is available for those struggling with addiction, including programs at Bluewater Health.
“But, the person that struggling with addiction is the one that has to ask for help.”
That can be hard for their loved ones, she said.
“But, that’s the way it is.”