A community engagement discussion this coming Monday in Red Deer is aimed at strengthening the community’s understanding of opioids and substance abuse.
The event, which is hosted by The Mustard Seed in collaboration with Turning Point, is free of charge and gets going at 7 p.m. from City Chapel (5850 Kerry Wood Drive).
Landon Hildebrand, a registered psychologist and Director of Housing and Clinic Development with The Mustard Seed Edmonton, says society is behind in how it understands addiction, and by improving that understanding, there will be more opportunity to engage with the issue in a positive way.
“There still exists this false understanding that substance use disorder and addiction is based on bad choices, which is kind of the older moral failure model. This just isn’t very helpful, and in many ways, nor is it an accurate understanding of the science behind addiction,” Hildebrand says.
“To understand it more in a systemic and holistic way, based on experiences, biology, trauma, and all of these intersecting with our cultural experiences, is a much more helpful way to then find positive ways for meeting people where they actually are.”
Those in attendance can expect what The Mustard Seed describes as an ‘open non-judgmental discussion,' as well as a powerful lived-experience story of recovery, and naloxone training from Turning Point.
“Stigma works as a huge barrier towards people approaching recovery because if you can’t share with your community where you’re struggling and your vulnerabilities, your community can’t be there to support you and help you forward,” Hildebrand adds.
“Here in Edmonton, what we’re seeing is it’s not just a city problem. We know it covers all demographics.”
Stacey Carmichael, Executive Director at Turning Point, says proof the stigma around drug use is still ripe is in a recent incident where someone driving by the agency’s downtown location threw eggs at clients.
“People drive by our office often to take pictures and make comments to the folks that are hanging out. This is not a zoo, and these are people, so that breaks my heart,” Carmichael says.
On why citizens should attend Monday’s discussion, she says, “This crisis has been the cause of over 50 fatalities in our community this year alone and I believe that it does impact everybody. The more tools folks have in their toolbox, hopefully we can start seeing a reduction in the deaths and the trauma.”
Registration is not required, however The Mustard Seed is trying to get an idea of how many will be in attendance through Eventbrite.
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