Advocates seek more help to stem rise in overdose deaths

Reducing stigma and ensuring safe drug supply are key considerations

CBC News · May 14, 2018 11:31

Now an advocate with Moms Stop the Harm, Jennens says the biggest issue is a lot of drug users hide their habit and use alone, which means they can't seek help when they overdose.
"They're not going to safe injection sites," she said. "If they do have naloxone, they're certainly not able to administer it to themselves during an overdose.
"It just tells me that we're not reaching the demographic of users that are dying."

Advocates seek more help to stem rise in overdose deaths

'We need to fight': Mothers who lost kids to drug addiction call for change this Mother's Day International campaign brings eight calls to action to social media

CBC News Manitoba, May 13, 2018

MSTH leader from Manitoba, Chris Dobbs, shares her story and talks about the What Mother’s Want for Mother’s Day Campaign. She also reminds us of today’s call to action:
“...put a candle in the window for the March of Mothers of Missing Children due to the War on Drugs in Mexico," said Dobbs, adding supporters are being asked to take a picture of the candle and post it to social media. #listentomom

'We need to fight': Mothers who lost kids to drug addiction call for change this Mother's Day
International campaign brings eight calls to action to social media

Different Mother's Day wish for B.C. moms working to save lives in fentanyl crisis

Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun, May 12, 2018

A group of B.C. women know exactly what they want for Mother’s Day, but their wishes cannot be fulfilled by their children. The grim reality is that each has lost a child to the province’s escalating overdose crisis, which is killing more than four people a day.

These women have united in their grief with like-minded mothers across Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to launch the international #listentomom campaign, which demands a more humane approach to drug addiction: removing the stigma and having it recognized as a medical issue.

“It is a monumental epidemic and we are not addressing it with the urgency it requires. It is a public health emergency, like ebola and AIDS,” said Kat Wahamaa of Maple Ridge, whose son Joseph, 25, died of a fentanyl overdose in 2016.

Different Mother's Day wish for B.C. moms working to save lives in fentanyl crisis

Overdose prevention group seeks funds to bring mobile unit to Ottawa

Brendan Shykora, Ottawa Citizen, May 10, 2018 

A new health-care group wants to provide Ottawa with its first mobile supervised consumption site. Sure Shot Mobile Outreach, a non-profit organization, has applied for provincial funding for a vehicle that can bring overdose prevention services where they’re needed most. The group, which formed this month, applied for a six-month contract and 24-hour operation capability, which would amount to $368,000 in provincial funds. 

[MSTH] Leila Attar, co-founder of Sure Shot, said a mobile unit would fill the service gaps between the three existing supervised injection sites in the ByWard Market area and one in Chinatown. “There is still a need in the city, but that is for a mobile unit, for people who aren’t able to get to those locations,” she said. “The reality is people are still dying at a very alarming rate in our city and this is something that’s needed immediately.”

Overdose prevention group seeks funds to bring mobile unit to Ottawa

Manitoba to fund rapid access to addictions medicine clinics

Government of Manitoba, May 8, 2018

Arlene Last-Kolb began advocating for better care following her 24-year-old son Jessie's opiate-related death in 2014. She said RAAM clinics are a big step towards improving addictions treatment in Manitoba.

"When those suffering from substance use disorder are reaching out for help, the health-care system needs to respond quickly while providing ongoing support,” said Last-Kolb. "The establishment of RAAM clinics throughout our province will give Manitobans suffering from addiction a safe place to seek help that can save their lives.”

The clinic model is intended to treat any and all substance-related addictions and has been successful in relieving pressure on emergency departments in other jurisdictions by serving as a specialized source of support and treatment for patients who may relapse. 

Manitoba to fund rapid access to addictions medicine clinics

Mothers across North America unite to combat opioid crisis through compassion and policy reform

PERRIN GRAUER, StarMetro Vancouver, May 7, 2018

Mothers from Canada, Mexico and the United States have joined forces ahead of Mother’s Day with the #listentomom campaign — an international rally for reform to drug laws they say are tearing North American families apart.

Mothers across North America unite to combat opioid crisis through compassion and policy reform

Mothers across North America unite for #ListenToMom campaign calling for an end to the war on drugs

Travis Lupick, The Georgia Straight, May 7th, 2018 

A group of mothers is working together across Canada, the United States, and Mexico to change how all three nations respond to addiction.

#ListenToMom is the name of a campaign they’ve launched ahead of Mother’s Day, which is this Sunday, May 13.

“Mothers are losing children to mass incarceration, drug war violence and accidental overdose across borders, due to the failed global war on drugs,” reads a media release announcing the initiative. “We are urging people to listen to our stories and to understand the need for a compassionate and tolerant approach to drug use and substance use disorders.”
Canadians are represented in the campaign by Moms Stop the Harm, which has members in Vancouver and across B.C. and the country. In the United States, they’re working with Moms United to End the War on Drugs and in Mexico, they’ve partnered with Red de Enlaces Nacionales.

Mothers across North America unite for #ListenToMom campaign calling for an end to the war on drugs

Health Canada's prescription opioid stickers and leaflets get a qualified welcome

Prescription opioids will come with a warning sticker and handout as industry regulations change
 
CBC News, May 4, 2018

Petra Schulz, co-founder of Moms Stop The Harm, a coalition of Canadian mothers who have children affected by addiction, applauded the warning stickers and information handout, but said she'd like an extra step: a sheet highlighting how to respond to overdoses to help save lives.
Part of the problem is that first aid courses don't show you what an overdose looks like, Schulz said.

"So many times I hear, 'I thought he was sleeping it off. He was snoring. She was sleeping," said Schulz, who lost her 25-year-old son Danny to a fentanyl overdose in 2014. "If you don't get the information in the hands of people, you're leaving them at risk."

Too many loved ones are started on an opioid prescription without being aware of the harms the drugs can caused if not used correctly, Schulz said. What's more, every individual responds differently. An opioid overdose suppresses breathing, and the longer the brain lacks adequate oxygen, the greater the risk of suffering damage. 

Health Canada's prescription opioid stickers and leaflets get a qualified welcome

Ottawa to implement warning stickers on prescription opioids

Andrea, Woo, Globe and Mail & Mail 4, 2016

Petra Schulz lost her adult son to a fentanyl overdose in 2014 and has since become a vocal drug-policy and harm-reduction advocate with the group Moms Stop the Harm. She said the group fully supports the warning sticker and informational handout, but feels that not including a separate sheet providing more details on overdoses and naloxone − a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose − is a missed opportunity.

The group is also of the position that people who are prescribed high potency opioids such as oxycodone and hydromorphone should be offered naloxone kits at the same time. Ms. Schulz noted that first-time opioid users may not be aware of the risks of mixing medications, seniors may be confused about dosage and some might not store their medications properly, leading to diversion – all of which present overdose risks.

“Many of these situations can lead to an overdose event where a naloxone kit is essential to reverse the effect the opioid has,” she said. “Having the kit also offers an educational opportunity, highlights the serious risks these drugs present and increases overall naloxone distribution in the population.”

Ottawa to implement warning stickers on prescription opioids

Health Canada's prescription opioid stickers will warn of addiction risk - Bright yellow warning sticker says opioid medication can cause dependence, addiction and overdose

CBC News May 02, 2018

Moms Stop The Harm, a network of Canadian mothers and families whose loved ones have died due to substance use or hope for recovery, supports the new warning sticker and patient handout. But they also see a missed opportunity. 
Petra Schulz of Edmonton called for a separate, highlighted information sheet to move beyond signs and symptoms of an overdose to share vital information on how to respond. 
"This is like basic first aid and should be available to all," Schulz said. 
Schulz also believes naloxone kits should be dispensed with potent opioids such as oxycodone and hydromorphone to save lives.

Health Canada's prescription opioid stickers will warn of addiction risk - Bright yellow warning sticker says opioid medication can cause dependence, addiction and overdose

You never think it’s going to happen to you’: Opioid crisis claiming lives in Alberta suburbs

ELIZABETH CAMERON StarMetro Calgary and OMAR MOSLEH StarMetro Edmonton, April 26, 2018

In Ethan’s case, his mother Evelyn (also a pseudonym) found out about his addiction through his girlfriend.

With treatment, in part at a private detox facility in Alberta, Ethan was able to get off fentanyl. Yet even today, after being in recovery for several months, most of his extended family have no idea what he went through.

Evelyn recently joined Moms Stop The Harm, a Canada-wide advocacy group that, among other concerns, wants to see addiction and drug use destigmatized in the interest of preventing more overdose deaths.

She feels the opioid crisis is shifting how addiction is perceived by society — albeit slowly.

“I think this epidemic has really pushed the envelope in terms of the traditional treatment,” Evelyn said. “It’s a medical condition like other medical conditions. And it needs to be treated that way.”

You never think it’s going to happen to you’: Opioid crisis claiming lives in Alberta suburbs

Courtenay-based overdose petition gaining traction

Comox Valley Record April 12, 2018

With nearly 1,000 signatures in just over one week, Courtenay parents John and Jennifer Hedican are hoping a petition will push for change for the country’s opioid overdose crisis. Nearly one year ago, the Hedicans lost their son Ryan following a lengthy battle of addiction due to fentanyl poisoning.

They have since been sharing their story with politicians and the public in an effort to destigmatize and raise awareness about substance use and to push for changes to policy and treatment. They created a petition which calls for the declaration of the overdose crisis as a National Public Health Emergency, to reform current drug policy to decriminalize personal possession and the creation of a system to provide safe substances.

“This is a national crisis and we want our federal government to make changes for all Canadians,” the Hedicans wrote in an email.

Courtenay-based overdose petition gaining traction

Victoria teen’s accidental overdose started with prescription drugs, parents say

Times Colonist, April 21, 2018

The parents of a Victoria teen who died Friday from an accidental overdose say they felt trapped by a medical system that didn't give them a say in their son's painkiller prescriptions. Sixteen-year-old Elliot Eurchuk, whom his parents described as a kind and funny athlete, died at his home after taking street drugs they believe he was using to help him sleep.

Victoria teen’s accidental overdose started with prescription drugs, parents say

Military mom proud of her ‘hero’ son

Oliver Chronicle, November 24, 2017

Remembrance Day 2017 was the first year that local military mom Jill McCullum attended the ceremony since losing her son Nick Stevens.

After returning from the war in Afghanistan around four years ago, Stevens had developed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and then an opioid addiction. He tried taking several paths towards recovery and had the full support of his family, but an overdose took his life in March.

Military mom proud of her ‘hero’ son

Harm reduction policies gain favour on campuses

University Affairs, April 25, 2018

Petra Schulz is an instructor in the community health and community studies department at MacEwan University and co-founder of the grassroots organization Moms Stop the Harm. In 2014, Ms. Schulz lost her youngest son Danny to an accidental fentanyl overdose. Danny was in recovery at the time, but the support and treatment groups he and his family attended preached “tough love,” she says. No one told them about keeping naloxone on hand or the potential risks of relapse.

“It’s very traumatizing to know the death of your child was so preventable and that there are tools available that you could have known about but didn’t,” Ms. Schulz says. Since forming the organization with a handful of other mothers who lost children to drug-related deaths, Moms Stop the Harm has grown to 400 members, all advocating for better education and drug policy reforms at the federal level.

Harm reduction policies gain favour on campuses

Thoughts on Stigma & our language around addiction

April 15, 2018 Daniel Snyder - Mindful Hope

What are the consequences of stigma? Stigma discriminates, it isolates, it disconnects people, it has a significant impact on the quality of life, it delays treatment, it can kill people. Research has demonstrated that substance use disorders are more highly stigmatised than other health conditions.

Moms Stop The Harm an advocacy group in Western Canada recently addressed this issue in a recent facebook post written as an open letter to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).

Thoughts on Stigma & our language around addiction

Addressing the opioid crisis in Castlegar - Decriminalization is key

Decriminalization is key to providing proper support for people who use drugs, a conference heard. Leslie McBain lost her son to an accidental opioid overdose when he was 25 and now advocates for harm reduction changes to drug policies at all levels of government with Moms Stop the Harm. She was the evening keynote speaker at the conference to address the fentanyl and opioid crisis in Castlegar on Thursday.

Addressing the opioid crisis in Castlegar -  Decriminalization is key

Trudeau government rejects Liberal MPs’ call for decriminalization of all drugs

iPolitics, Joan Bryden. Apr 18, 2018

MSTH as an organization and several members individually signed the petition mentioned in the article.

"We urge you to be the progressive government you promised to be, choosing human rights and evidence-based policy over ideological relics. A resolution for sensible drug policy is on the agenda at the April 2018 federal Liberal convention. We wholly support this resolution and urge that you accept it as a party policy and quickly advance legislation to decriminalize low-level possession in accordance with that policy."

Trudeau government rejects Liberal MPs’ call for decriminalization of all drugs

Moms Stop The Harm respond to opioid crisis

Nanaimo News Bulletin, Apr. 26, 2018

There is a lot of overlap in the two stories. Two young men were prescribed opioids after they were injured. Both were given months worth of the highly-addictive drugs. Both parents’ requests for alternatives to the opioids were ignored, and both were pushed out of the decision-making in their child’s health care. The two young men sought the drugs elsewhere once the prescriptions ran out with no ongoing support and in the end both men died of an opioid overdose.

Moms Stop The Harm respond to opioid crisis