Plannedemic – International Overdose Awareness Day
August 31, 2021
Plan – An intent to cause something. This was done by the drug companies to create a need for a product.
Pandemic – Prevalent over an entire country or world. Opioids are misused throughout the world.
As the Addictions Specialist at Wood's Homes, I continue to see the impact of opioids within the vulnerable youth and families we serve.
How do we support our clients to reduce the impact that it will have on their families?
How can I give support to my friends, family, and adults and youth in my life?
These are the questions that I am often asked in private by caregivers, foster parents, teachers, and co-workers.
My answer to these questions is to continually educate ourselves. Ask the hard questions. Be open to hearing another person’s truth with compassion. Do not judge.
An addiction or a maladaptive behaviour from trauma that includes opioid abuse is extremely complicated.
In February, I wrote a blog post titled ‘The last people standing’ in response to the difficulties people were experiencing around navigating services within the addictions field due to COVID-19, and shared the following:
11 people a day die in Canada from an overdose.
11 people. 11 mothers. 11 fathers. 11 kids. 11 lives.
All gone too soon while leaving loved ones behind.
The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the stream of readily available street narcotics have continuously increased the amount of overdoses resulting in death this last quarter. In fact, it has increased by more than 100%.
29 people a day die in Canada from an opioid overdose.
29 people. 29 mothers. 29 fathers. 29 kids. 29 lives.
I felt sick to my stomach as I did the calculations. In 60 days, 1,766 people have died from an opioid-involved overdose in Canada, according to Health Canada. Too many people have lost their lives to a maladaptive coping strategy, when help is available within Alberta, barrier-free.
So let’s continue to educate ourselves and each other.
When an individual uses an opioid, it triggers the release of endorphins – the feel good neurotransmitters in the brain. When an individual starts to detox from the opioid, the brain is triggered and communicates to the body that it is going to die without the endorphins. This pattern often begins to repeat before the individual has even had the time to react. These chemical reactions are why opioids are a ‘plannedemic’. Users become addicted before they have even had the time to understand the consequences of using an opioid.
So many young people overdose and die on their first-time use, and shame around drug-use is what drives them into hiding. Shame is what drives an addiction to become a secret.
The Harm Reduction Model is a set of practical approaches and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use, such as having a Narcan Kit available or ensuring the cleanliness of supplies. If we do not take a client-centred approach that seeks to reduce the health and social harms associated with addiction and substance use, and talk about the safety concerns and consequences around using alone, we will continue to shame the addict into using in secret and dying alone.
If you have any questions or would like to seek help for a youth in your life (14-28), please reach out at 403-888-8444.
We, at Wood’s Homes, are always willing to help. We never turn anyone away.