My son Danny: The truth about substance use, stigma and overdose

Petra Schulz, TEDxMacEwanU, March 5, 2019

Petra Schulz (faculty member, health and community studies at MacEwan University) 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. When faced with what to say in his eulogy, they decided to tell the truth. In this heart-wrenching talk, Petra shares Danny’s story and the idea that people who use drugs are just like everyone else: people who deserve a chance to be safe and healthy, and to live without judgment or shame.

Drs. Evan Wood and Keith Ahamad: Regulating heroin would improve public health and safety

EVAN WOOD, Vancouver Sun

Updated: March 1, 2019

This OpEd includes video footage from the press conference where BCCSU releases its proposal for a compassion club style approach to regulating and distributing pharmaceutical grade heroin. MSTH co-founder Leslie McBain explains why this is so important and why we have to do everything in our power to save lives.

Drs. Evan Wood and Keith Ahamad: Regulating heroin would improve public health and safety

Overdose Memorial Spreads Message of Hope

February 20, 2019. Article by: Government of BC

A powerful symbol of the scale of B.C.’s overdose emergency extends along a stretch of highway on Vancouver Island.

It includes almost four thousand pieces of twine – each for a person who lost their life to overdose in Canada in 2017 – and over 100 brightly-coloured flags with names of people who have died. At one end of the display is a group of white flags, each representing a person predicted to die of overdose in B.C. in any given week.

The 120-foot display hangs from Comox resident [and MSTH advocate] Judith Conway’s garden fence; a touching memorial to the lives that have been lost to overdose. It shows the devastating number of people and families that have been affected. And it has also been a way for Judith to process her own grief.

Overdose Memorial Spreads Message of Hope

Drug users, advocates fear federal election may sideline safer opioids policy

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

Published Thursday, February 14, 2019

The co-founder of a national group of parents whose children have died of overdoses fears the looming federal election will derail any policy changes that could make a safer supply of opioids a priority, even as the country's chief public health officer has promised to review such a plan.

Leslie McBain of Moms Stop the Harm said the overemphasis on addiction treatment has not worked because drug users are continuing to use the black market to access fentanyl-laced substances that have killed thousands of Canadians.

"In implementing a safe supply (policy), it brings the people who need it into an environment where they can then also be offered different forms of treatment. It keeps them alive. It takes courage to make that step to recovery," said McBain, whose 25-year-old son fatally overdosed five years ago.

"I think the federal government is trying to do the right thing but in an election year the Liberals don't want to do anything that might further impact their base."

McBain, who advocates for families with the BC Centre on Substance Use, said Health Canada needs to provide the public with information about the process involved in a safer-opioids review by Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, who announced in December she will gather data from provinces and territories.

"We are committed to exploring additional options for creating the conditions for a safer supply of opioids," the agency said in a statement, adding its work is "ongoing."

Drug users, advocates fear federal election may sideline safer opioids policy

Drug users, advocates fear federal election may sideline safer opioids policy

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press — Feb 14 2019

Leslie McBain of Moms Stop the Harm said the overemphasis on addiction treatment has not worked because drug users are continuing to use the black market to access fentanyl-laced substances that have killed thousands of Canadians.

"In implementing a safe supply (policy), it brings the people who need it into an environment where they can then also be offered different forms of treatment. It keeps them alive. It takes courage to make that step to recovery," said McBain, whose 25-year-old son fatally overdosed five years ago.

"I think the federal government is trying to do the right thing but in an election year the Liberals don't want to do anything that might further impact their base."

McBain, who advocates for families with the BC Centre on Substance Use, said Health Canada needs to provide the public with information about the process involved in a safer-opioids review by Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, who announced in December she will gather data from provinces and territories.

"We are committed to exploring additional options for creating the conditions for a safer supply of opioids," the agency said in a statement, adding its work is "ongoing."

Drug users, advocates fear federal election may sideline safer opioids policy

Passion on all sides at drug site meet

Medicine Hat News, February 14, 2019

Colleen Westgarth [MSTH member from Medicine Hat] shared a personal story of the loss of her 33 year-old son to an overdose. When he had difficulty breathing in his basement apartment he called 911. When EMS reached him it was too late.

“He died alone,” said Westgarth. “Why don’t we give this a chance? These are not bad people.”

Addiction has no social boundaries, she said.

“There will be other (sites) here in Medicine Hat I guarantee it,” said Westgarth. “I am pleading with you to have an open mind.

Passion on all sides at drug site meet

Fentanyl deaths on the rise

St. Albert Today, February 13, 2019

After losing her daughter to a drug overdose in 2015, a St. Albert mother is shaken after learning fentanyl-related deaths are continuing to climb in Alberta.

“When you see something like that, it's almost like reliving everything over and over and over,” said Faye Gray.

Gray's 32-year-old daughter, Lindsey, died after unknowingly ingesting fentanyl while using methamphetamines.

Fentanyl deaths on the rise

Opioid crisis video series premieres in Grande Prairie

Maureen McEwan, DHT, Published on: February 8, 2019

“This video series, it shows the growth of our community. The impact [of the crisis] has been rapid and hard and just mind blowing,” said panelist Tyla Savard to the audience after the screening.

Savard is an advocate with Moms Stop the Harm and a member of the task force. She identifies as someone with lived experience, sharing that her family has dealt directly with the crisis for six years.

“There is no grey area, there is no buffer with it, it is black and white, life or death and that is just a matter of fact,” she said. “And, unfortunately, it is the most severe thing ever.”

Opioid crisis video series premieres in Grande Prairie

Coroner: 1,489 people died of illicit drug overdoses last year in B.C.

Katie DeRosa / Times Colonist FEBRUARY 7, 2019 11:11 AM

Leslie McBain, an overdose awareness advocate and founder of Moms Stop the Harm, said Monday will mark five years since her son, Jordan Miller, died of an overdose.

McBain said the number of deaths underscores the “extreme emergency” posed by the overdose crisis.

“When we look at the evidence and use common sense…the easiest way to stop the overdose deaths is to supply safe regulated drugs to people who need them,” she said.

Coroner: 1,489 people died of illicit drug overdoses last year in B.C.

Opioid Stories - Addiction, Loss, Grief, and Stigma

By Holly Maller, Cassandra Woods, and Holly Ollenberger Jan 29, 2019

The opioid crisis has had a devastating effect on families throughout Canada, with 4-thousand people losing their lives in 2017. Opioid Stories is a multimedia website featuring a handful of the individuals who have experienced the epidemic firsthand, in one way or another.

The site focuses on the loved ones left behind when someone experiences an opioid related death. By sharing the stories of their loved one's addiction and eventual death, they hope to not only inform the audience about just how widespread this problem is, but they also hope to chip away at the stigma and misinformation surrounding addiction.

Opioid Stories - Addiction, Loss, Grief, and Stigma

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