Truth told: Petra Schulz

MacEwan University, JANUARY 9, 2019

Truth. The pursuit of this five-letter word is the responsibility of every post-secondary institution: to seek truths that are sometimes universal, often personal and occasionally just plain controversial.

It also happens to be the theme of a TEDxMacEwanU event on January 23, where MacEwan faculty members and alumni will explore truth in its many forms.

Petra Schulz never planned to be a harm reduction advocate, but her life changed forever on April 30, 2014 when she and her husband discovered their son Danny’s body on the bathroom floor of his apartment. He had injected what he believed to be “street oxycodone,” but what turned out to be a deadly dose of a then little-known drug called fentanyl. Since that day, she has been sharing her personal story and working to change the way we look at substance use.

Truth told: Petra Schulz

'Turning the Titanic takes a long time' says mother of overdose victim after another deadly year

Chad Pawson CBC News · Dec 28, 2018

"You know turning the Titanic, it takes a long time," she said. "We can see the end game, but getting from here to there is going to be a long and difficult task."

In 2016, McBain along with two other mothers founded Moms Stop the Harm, to create a network for people whose loved ones have died from drug overdoses or who are struggling with substance use.

The organization now has 800 members and its chief aim is to push governments to provide safe drugs to users, so that they can avoid illicit drugs, which often contain deadly amounts of fentanyl.

'Turning the Titanic takes a long time' says mother of overdose victim after another deadly year

Vancouver looks to pioneer 'safe supply' for hard drug users

DAN FUMANO Vancouver Sun, December 20, 2018

#MSTH Deb Bailey urged council to move forward with the task force recommendations, and said she would give them “two really good reasons that you should.”

The first reason was Bailey’s own daughter, Ola, who told her parents Dec. 22, 2015, that she was going Christmas shopping at Pacific Centre. But two days later, police officers arrived at Bailey’s door, she said, “And that’s how my husband and I ended up in the morgue on Christmas Eve.”

“I really hate the fact that Ola died alone and far from the family that loved her to bits,” Bailey said. “She was my best buddy. And I miss her.”

Vancouver looks to pioneer 'safe supply' for hard drug users

Memorial in Powell River aims to raise awareness and end stigma surrounding substance use

Sara Donnelly / Powell River Peak, DECEMBER 12, 2018

The holidays can be a difficult time for anyone grieving a loss. For those who have lost loved ones to overdose, it can be even harder to navigate.

A tree in Town Centre Mall highlights overdose awareness and serves as a way for people to honour those who have died as a result of it.

“I’m trying to find ways to help reduce stigma and help others who are grieving,” said Darlana Treloar, who lost her son Sean to overdose in May 2016. “This tree is very meaningful to people who have lost someone in this way. It helps us in our grief and gives us a feeling of peace to do something in their memory.”

Located across from Coles bookstore, the white tree is covered with purple and silver decorations, including ornaments featuring the pictures and details of people lost to substance use disorder.

“To read the ornaments, the names of the people, the ages, the years they lived is a really hard thing to do,” said Maureen Christensen, who lost her son Anton Christensen Lemieux. “It gives meaning to these people. They’re not alive anymore, but they were alive and they did matter.”

Memorial in Powell River aims to raise awareness and end stigma surrounding substance use

Brought together by heartache: How moms who lost children to drugs are helping each other heal

Alana Cole · CBC News Winnipeg, Dec 20, 2018

Susan Engstrom, Arlene Last-Kolb, Tracy Sanderson and Barb Ashley, left to right, have come together to support each other after losing their children to drug overdoses.

Now these mothers are part of a group of women who meet to find comfort. On this day, it's to decorate angel-shaped cookies in honour of their children. Other times it can be a meal or simply coffee.

Brought together by heartache: How moms who lost children to drugs are helping each other heal

Free resources launched to support British Columbians struggling with addiction, loss and grief

PERRIN GRAUER StarMetro Vancouver Wed., Nov. 28, 2018

VANCOUVER—In response to the unrelenting impact of addiction and the overdose crisis on British Columbians, a new suite of resources has been launched by provincial partners to provide tools for individuals and families struggling with substance-use disorder or grief following the loss of a loved one.

Two free handbooks written by people who have first-hand experience with substance use and loss are now available online and by mail to help people navigate the challenges and harms associated with substance-use disorder.

Leslie McBain, co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm and family engagement lead at the BCCSU, said the support handbooks provide “the things I wish I’d know after I lost (my son) to an overdose — not only in the days immediately following his death, but in the months and years after.”

Free resources launched to support British Columbians struggling with addiction, loss and grief

Community hyper vigilance anticipated by Red Deer harm reduction agency

Red Deer Advocate, November 27, 2018

Deborah Watson, Central Alberta leader with Moms Stop The Harm, was grateful city council approved the application.

“It is an excellent decision and shows our city is capable of being a compassionate place for our most vulnerable citizens,” Watson said.

She would like the city to go further and publicly support the consumption site, similar to the support shown by Lethbridge’s mayor and council.

Community hyper vigilance anticipated by Red Deer harm reduction agency

New doc Painkiller delves into B.C.'s opioid epidemic with nuance and compassion, finding possible solutions

Travis Lupick, Georgia Straight, November 23, 2018

Watch Painkiller: Inside the Opioid Crisis, a thoughtful look at a health emergency that killed more than 4,000 people across Canada in 2017

Petra Schultz, a founding member of the B.C.-based group Moms Stop the Harm, recounts losing her son to an addiction to opioids in a new documentary that's screening in Vancouver on November 26, 2018.

New doc Painkiller delves into B.C.'s opioid epidemic with nuance and compassion, finding possible solutions

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TELUS Health presents: Painkiller: Inside the Opioid Crisis A TELUS Health Originals documentary

Telus Health, November 22, 2018

Painkiller: Inside the Opioid Crisis, a TELUS Health Originals documentary tells the human story behind the opioid epidemic affecting Canada. The documentary seeks to raise awareness and end the stigma of addiction by educating and informing viewers on what Fentanyl is and how it is affecting our country. Petra Schulz and MSTH are featured in this documentary.

TELUS Health presents: Painkiller: Inside the Opioid Crisis A TELUS Health Originals documentary

Episode 12 - Turning the Titanic - Leslie Mcbain of Moms Stop the Harm

SayKnow.org November 20, 2018

Leslie is a co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm (MSTH) - an organization of moms who have lost their children to the disease of addiction. They have banded together for strength; to advocate for compassionate policy changes in the face of an epidemic that continues to take away lives.They strive to decriminalize the possession of drugs and want the federal government to create a safe, regulated supply of opioids in order to save thousands of preventable deaths.

Episode 12 - Turning the Titanic - Leslie Mcbain of Moms Stop the Harm

Legalized drugs would help addicts, all of us, says advocate mom

Leader Post, November 20, 2018

Agiortis acknowledged that moms with sympathetic stories brought up by the NDP Opposition on the assembly floor do draw attention to many issues involving opioid addictions.

But she fears compelling stories from moms of kids struggling with addiction are not enough to “move things ahead.” She now believes politicians must legalize drugs to ensure safe supply for addicts and to end the cycle of crime related to drugs.

Legalized drugs would help addicts, all of us, says advocate mom

The Crucial Role of Mothers in Reforming Drug Policy

Talking Drugs, November 20, 2018

Mothers in the UK, US, Canada, and beyond are advocating for drug policy reform; for many, their advocacy follows the death or incarceration of their child as a result of the drug war.

In Canada, a group of mothers - Leslie McBain, Petra Schulz and Lorna Thomas – developed a bond after each one of them lost a son because of the lack of public health support for people who use drugs. Two of the young men died of opioid overdoses, while one took his own life while struggling with cocaine use and mental health issues. The three mothers established an organisation, Moms Stop the Harm, which advocates for various harm reduction measures, including increased access to naloxone (a medication which reverses opioid overdoses), and “Good Samaritan” laws which legally protect individuals from prosecution if they call emergency services in the case of a drug overdose.

Marie Agioritis, a board member of Moms Stop the Harm who joined the group following the death of her son in 2015, said that “there was an instant connection. All of these like-minded women wanting to inspire change. It’s this web of women connecting with broken hearts.”

The Crucial Role of Mothers in Reforming Drug Policy

Moms united in grief and new purpose: to change how addiction is treated in Canada

The Globe and Mail, NOVEMBER 18, 2018

Leslie McBain, Petra Schulz and Lorna Thomas share a common, unwanted bond. Each of them has endured the pain of losing a son to drugs.

Ms. McBain, Ms. Schulz and Ms. Thomas are working to change that. In the early days, their grief engulfed them. Then, it gave way to anger and determination. If Canada had adequate programs in place to treat mental illness and addiction, the women say, perhaps their children would still be here.

Moms united in grief and new purpose: to change how addiction is treated in Canada

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Faster access to drug used to treat alcohol abuse could improve treatment: MD

CBC News Manitoba: Nov 19, 2018

When Arlene Last-Kolb's son Jessie, 24, died from a drug overdose a little more than four years ago, she turned to alcohol to help with her grief.

It was a way for her to deal with the shock, it helped her get through her day, it helped her sleep.

"It was getting to the point where it was getting really hard and very sad," Last-Kolb said. "I needed to make a change."

Faster access to drug used to treat alcohol abuse could improve treatment: MD

Comment: Declare an emergency over opioid crisis

Times Colonist, NOVEMBER 17, 2018

Our premiers need to call upon our prime minister and his Liberal government to declare this crisis a national public-health emergency, so real changes can be made to save lives now. Canada’s chief public-health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, stated that: “Tragically, in 2016, there were more deaths from opioid-related deaths than from the HIV epidemic in 1995. This is a major public-health crisis in Canada.”

Our governments are responsible for the safety of their citizens, and they have the responsibility to do all they can to stop preventable deaths. Tragically, optics and the fear of losing votes are preventing this.

John and Jennifer Hedican are Ryan’s parents. Megan and Kyle are his sister and brother. They live in Courtenay.

Comment: Declare an emergency over opioid crisis

Proposed safe drug consumption service goes to public meeting Tuesday

The Red Deer Advocate Nov. 10, 2018

Deborah Watson, of the national group Moms Stop the Harm, has two children who struggle with addiction and she wants to put a human face to the disease.

It’s a matter of life and death for people’s sons, daughters, mothers and fathers who did not choose to become opioid addicts, said Deborah Watson.

Proposed safe drug consumption service goes to public meeting Tuesday

Alberta opts out of national opioid study, highlighting gaps in overdose data

Globe and Mail, OCTOBER 5, 2018

Petra Schulz, co-founder of the advocacy group Moms Stop the Harm, said there was an air of frustration at an opioid conference in Edmonton during the first week of October as people have grown angry with the increasing number of fatalities due to overdose and government inaction, especially in Ontario where a new Progressive Conservative government has put a stop to opening new overdose-prevention sites.

While Ms. Schulz said Alberta has done a better job of collecting data in recent years, the province’s data don’t delve deep enough into what interactions people have with the health-care system before their deaths – the kind of questions being asked by the federal study.

Alberta opts out of national opioid study, highlighting gaps in overdose data

Perspectives on Saskatoon’s evolving opioid crisis

Global News Saskatchewan, October 30, 2018

Some of the common themes that emerged were improving and expanding pain management programs in the province, increasing funding, improving education of professionals and the public as well as improving social determinants of health.

“We know what the solutions are, it’s just that we don’t always have access to those solutions,” said Dr. Wendy Gore-Hickman who now works as a recovery advocate.

Gore-Hickman said from her experience, those who need the help often don’t get it when they need it the most.

“I had one die on Oct. 5, he was waiting for a bed in Saskatchewan in one of our addiction centres and the wait list was six weeks,” Gore-Hickman said.

Perspectives on Saskatoon’s evolving opioid crisis