EDITORIAL: Opioid dialogue must be a two-way street

Alberni’s Shelter Society is asking people to listen as well as talk

We applaud the Port Alberni Shelter Society for taking a proactive role in dealing with the opioid crisis that has hit the Alberni Valley just as hard as it has hit the rest of the province of British Columbia.

The Shelter Society manages the overdose prevention site that opened on Third Avenue in South Port earlier this year, has applied for and been granted detox beds and now has earned a grant to hold community dialogues on the opioid crisis.

Over the next six months they intend to hold sessions where people on both sides of the issue can share their opinions and, according to shelter spokesperson John Douglas, come away with a better understanding of what’s happening. The Shelter Society intends to include First Nations in this process, which is a vital component to its success. Our First Nations have been hit hard by this crisis.

So many people are reluctant to talk about the drug overdoses and deaths this community has suffered from, whether from fear of prosecution, the stigma of using drugs or lack of empathy. Yet this is an issue that has affected the entire community—not just the people who OD or die, or their families, but complete strangers who feel the need to take Naloxone training ‘just in case’, who have had property stolen by those desperate to buy drugs, or witnessed overdose events.

Our first responders have been taxed in ways they likely never imagined, because opioids are that insidious. Fentanyl and carfentanil are so unstable that first responders are also under threat every time they try and help someone under the influence.

Frank discussions—both speaking and listening—are the only way we are going to fully understand this issue. And with understanding, hopefully, will come a solution.

— Alberni Valley News