Hooked: Opioids taking their toll on Sask. families and communities

Regina Leader Post, July 18, 2018

In her head, Marie Agioritis had already planned her son’s funeral. She knew her boy Kayle Best was [addicted to opioids]. She’d seen him through the lost jobs, the trashed condo, the arrests and the abusive behaviour. His addiction started innocently. Kayle suffered debilitating migraines, up to four or five a month since the age of two. A few months before he graduated from Grade 12, a schoolmate offered him opioids to relieve the pain. Kayle took the pills, followed by more pills. When the phone call came on Jan. 3, 2015, Marie was almost expecting it.

What she wasn’t expecting was the news from her ex-husband that their other son, Kelly, had died from an overdose. Kelly, 19, had taken a pill that turned out to be laced with fentanyl. “It’s the most painful place that you will ever, ever feel,” says Agioritis. For Kayle, the pain was compounded by guilt. The fatal pill came from a person in Kayle’s drug circle, and Kayle was with his brother the night before his death.

Hooked: Opioids taking their toll on Sask. families and communities

No easy answer for opioids

Lethbridge Herald, July 10, 2018

Shannon Degraaf was in attendance as part of a group called Moms Stop the Harm. The group includes Canadian mothers who have come together for support as families who have lost loved ones to substance abuse or are currently dealing with those issues within their families.
She said the group is pushing for more compassion for those dealing with drug issues.
“There’s not a lot of (compassion) out there,” she said. “We’re trying to stop the stigma so people will come forward and admit they have a problem and get help before it’s too late.”

No easy answer for opioids

Time to talk about carrying naloxone in schools, parent advocates say

CBC News Edmonton, June 29, 2018

Edmonton schools should consider stocking naloxone kits to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses, says a mother who lost her son to an accidental fentanyl overdose in 2014.  "It is medication, but I would compare it more to giving first aid," said Petra Schulz, founder of Moms Stop The Harm, a network for people who have lost loved ones to substance abuse.

Time to talk about carrying naloxone in schools, parent advocates say

‘We can’t afford to wait’: Group in Victoria calls for decriminalization of substance use

CHEK News Victoria, June 23, 2018

Family and friends of loved ones who died of drug use gathered at the B.C. Legislature Saturday, calling on the government to decriminalize substance use. They say more needs to be done to end the stigma, help [people who use substances] and ultimately save lives.

‘We can’t afford to wait’: Group in Victoria calls for decriminalization of substance use

They’ve lost loved ones, now they’re rallying to decriminalize illicit drugs

Times Colonist, June 23, 2018

More than 200 people gathered on the lawn of the legislature on Saturday to support Moms Stop the Harm, a Canadian network of families and allies who have lost loved ones to drug overdose. The group is calling for action to decriminalize illicit drug use as a solution to the rising rates of overdose deaths.

They’ve lost loved ones, now they’re rallying to decriminalize illicit drugs

Moms of those killed by illicit opioids take to B.C. Legislature in call for action

Columbia Valley Pioneer, June 23, 2018

Moms Stop the Harm, a nationwide network of families who have lost loved ones to overdoses rally [for decriminalization].

“We need it to be a national public health emergency, like it was for H1N1, SARS and Ebola, which they haven’t done for the opioid epidemic and at this point more people have died from drugs than the other three combined,” Hedican said. “We’re hoping to have as many signatures as the people who have died over the last two and a half years, which would be more than 10,000.”

Moms of those killed by illicit opioids take to B.C. Legislature in call for action

Opioid crisis has turned grieving relatives into reform advocates

Andrea Woo, The Gobe and Mail, June 22, 2018

Nearly 4,000 Canadians died of opioid overdoses last year – a record high in a crisis that shows no signs of abating. The mounting deaths have turned ordinary citizens into vocal advocates for drug-policy reform; Grief has made way for action.

On Saturday, Moms Stop the Harm, a network of Canadian families who have lost loved ones to overdoses with members from coast to coast, will rally on the steps of the B.C. Legislature in Victoria. They are calling for the decriminalization of drug possession and consumption, as well as access to a safer, regulated source.

Opioid crisis has turned grieving relatives into reform advocates

Largest Island Health supervised consumption site set to open Monday

CHEK News Victoria, June 14, 2018

In response to B.C.'s overdose crisis, Island Health is set to open the doors to its largest supervised consumption site next week in Victoria.

The Pandora Supervised Consumption Centre opens Monday and will have ten consumption booths, reception and post-use areas, mental health counselling services, a nurse clinic room and a medication room. 

MSTH Millie Schulz, who is responsible for our website, works at The Harbour Supervised Consumption Site as a harm reduction worker.

Largest Island Health supervised consumption site set to open Monday

Cries for help: Opioid crisis creates new need for grief therapy and support groups

CBC News, Jun 06, 2018

Parents and spouses turn to peer-led groups for emotional support they have trouble finding elsewhere. 

Welz, whose daughter Zoe died of a fentanyl overdose in 2016, values the support from other families. "Through our own grief," she said, "we've really become a community." While GRASP has filled a void, Welz believes there needs to be a Canadian-based support network. She is working with Moms Stop the Harm to start launch Healing Hearts, a new grief recovery network that will be a structured and insured group with an activity schedule and trained leaders.

Cries for help: Opioid crisis creates new need for grief therapy and support groups

National pharmacists conference hears agonizing story of opioid overdose death

Global News June 4, 2018

The Canadian Pharmacists Association has heard the agonizing story of a mother who has lost a child to the opioid crisis. Marie Agioritis is in Fredericton as part of a group called “Moms Stop the Harm,” a group of families from across the country who have either lost a loved one or is hoping for one’s recovery from substance use.

National pharmacists conference hears agonizing story of opioid overdose death

Flags of Hope event to comfort, support families affected by drug addiction

Winnipeg Sun, June 3, 2018

Two Winnipeg mothers will never again get to hug their sons and tell them that they love them, after fatal drug overdoses killed them. These mothers are throwing an event on Sunday to share their stories and to bring hope to those who have lost a loved one to drug overdoses.

On Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Riverview Community Centre, anyone who has lost a loved one or is struggling with addictions in the family is invited to attend the free event, Flags of Hope, in partnership with Mothers Stop the Harm. Together the families will create flags, based on Tibetan prayer flags, in memory of their loved ones. The event will also feature time for sharing stories and a presentation on Naloxone awareness.

Flags of Hope event to comfort, support families affected by drug addiction

Flags of Hope event to bring awareness to addictions, say organizers

CBC News, Winnipeg, Jun 03, 2018

Adam Watson died in his parents' basement, the victim of an opioid overdose while his folks were away on vacation.  Now his mother, Christine Dobbs, is on a mission to make sure her son and others like him did not die in vain.  

"We want to get some hope for those that are grieving and give them an opportunity to share their stories with each other and make beautiful flags," said Dobbs.

Flags of Hope event to bring awareness to addictions, say organizers

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