Dana Dmytro, Medicine Hat, AB
When I was 23 years old, I lost my mother to an accidental overdose from prescription medications, including Oxycontin. She was a pediatric nurse, and a hard-working, intelligent, and kind woman. As a single parent, she gave me a strong moral compass and taught me independence. I lost my brother to addiction-related harms, my only sibling, in 2016. He became addicted to drugs as a pre-teen, and was addicted to opiates as a teenager after stealing prescription drugs from our mother. Although he had a lot of early and later life traumas, those who knew him before he passed away would describe him as reserved, gentle and polite. He would help his neighbours and his peers whenever he could. His little dog was his best friend, and he went everywhere with him.
I was a strong advocate for my brother in the later years of his life, when the physical health challenges related to his addiction and drug use became overwhelming. Since he has passed, I have become an advocate for harm reduction and supervised consumption services, as I believe that he would still be alive if he had access to these life-saving interventions. I believe that my intimate knowledge of the experiences he had, including his day-to-day challenges, interactions with social services and health care professionals, in combination with my graduate level education in psychology and research methods places me in a unique position for informed advocacy.
In collaboration with other Albertan advocates, I have helped promote HOPE- Hat Overdose Prevention and Education in order to share evidence-based and thought provoking information, media, and statistics about harm reduction, as well as to advocate for supervised consumption services in Medicine Hat. I also remain committed to advocating for addiction prevention and harm reduction services in my professional career.