Chloe Kotval (Image courtesy: Neville Kotval to the CBC)
With the Valentine’s Day death of 14-year-old Chloe Kotval or the December 31st death of 18-year-old Teslin Russell still stinging in the collective hearts of parents in the nations’ capital; what remains painstakingly obvious is that the opioid crisis in this country is showing no signs of decreasing.
Opioid use, misuse and abuse is killing Canadians. They are easily accessible. Opioids such as Fentanyl, Percocet and OxyContin (OxyNeo) are available from your doctor.
Codeine is available OTC through a pharmacist. Medicine cabinets and cupboards across the country are flooded with these narcotic drugs, and when prescriptive options run out, the plethora of counterfeit reproductions from online “retailers” or from the street are almost unlimited.
So, what can we do about it?
The pathway towards controlling this epidemic is a two-pronged approach. There is the Treatment side and there is the Prevention Side.
Much work and research has been done over the last 6 years towards establishing the most effective methodologies that best influence substance abuse prevention amongst Canadian youth. It’s about education and it’s about trust. We’re not talking about the Reagan era “Just Say No” campaigns of the 1980’s either.
That approach does not work; it actually stimulates the appetite for many youths to establish their own independence against authority by doing the exact opposite.
No, what works is honest, factual information. You will not die instantly if you hold a marijuana joint; presenting fear tactic messages such as this only serve to obliterate trust. All credibility is lost and the opportunity to present factual information is lost.
Empowering young adults to make their own decisions about drugs is the solution. Providing accurate information builds trust and presents a positive platform to allow for decisions to be made from facts, information and understanding. This education become the building blocks of decision making through a person’s teenage and adult years.
Unfortunately, for the thousands of families who have a loved one in the throes of opiate addiction today, effective treatments are available. Supervised In-patient treatment options that offer both medically monitored withdrawal management services and certified professionals that can identify and help provide new coping mechanisms to existing bio-psychosocial conditions are an absolute must.
Getting the right help, concentrated, supervised and with the right professionals who understand addiction can allow the chapter on opiate use to be turned.
I see the effective results of this approach every day. Families, hopeless and broken from the effects of opiate use make continual progress. They become hopeful, the light comes on, and they develop the necessary tools as they transition to successful.
I cannot effectively articulate the feeling of watching a family sobbing with tears of joy at the realization that they have their loved on back from the grips of opiate use. This is the reward of working in addictions.
The Canadian Centre For Addiction provides effective seminar series including the Facts about Opiates and How to Talk to Teenagers about Drugs.