Ryan Leboe and Bear Lind, persons with lived experience with the Port Alberni Community Action Team. The CAT invites the community to Char’s Landing from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 27 for conversation and a screening of the film Painkiller: Inside the Opioid Crisis.

‘Substance use has no boundaries; we need to come together’

Alberni CAT screens film Feb. 27, welcomes discussion about substance use and overdose

Solving a problem begins with understanding it.

Nowhere does that ring more true than the current overdose crisis.

“Who can understand the problems and pains of addiction better than those affected? They know how they feel and what they need to heal. We don’t, and all of our put-downs don’t help,” reflects Marilyn, whose son lives with addiction and mental illness.

The additional insight provided by those who’ve lived with someone dealing with addiction can also provide “a better understanding of what might work and what definitely will not. We’re also more inclined to search for what’s working in other communities or other countries,” reflects Marilyn, a person with lived experience (PWLE) on Alberni’s Community Action Team (CAT), who first became involved with the CAT to begin learning.

CATs spearhead local co-ordination and communication to respond to the needs of those most at risk of overdose in their communities. Participation of Persons with Lived Experience (PWLE) is a big part of that.

“I know now, only he can help himself but have learned what things may trigger success and what may trigger a relapse,” Marilyn says. “When I learned about ideas that might help, I wanted to share them with others. If I cannot help my son, perhaps I can help someone else. Perhaps someone else can guide him in the right direction.”

Experience is vital to the solution

The involvement of PWLE is a core tenet of harm reduction as a way to improve linkage, engagement and retention in care and mental health services and programs, explains Mark Lacroix, Port Alberni CAT co-ordinator.

“Their involvement provides insights into the realities of substance use and at-risk environments and input into policies and practices to ensure relevance and effectiveness, and enhances the ability to navigate hard-to-reach places and communities,” Lacroix says.

For PWLE CAT member Ryan Leboe, involvement was an important way to help reduce the stigma about substance abuse and break down barriers that may hold users hostage, such as accessing services and housing.

“I feel PWLE it’s a vital piece to the puzzle in reducing stigma surrounding substance abuse and harm reduction. I feel we’ve been stuck in the Dark Ages and by bringing in PWLE we can shine a new light and brighten the hopes of the mothers, the fathers the brothers and the sisters affected by substance abuse. Substance use has no boundaries and therefore we need to come together. Having PWLE part of the team brings a whole new element the table.”

How you can get involved

Community members are invited to engage with the Alberni Valley’s Community Action Team and its newest PWLE members from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 27 at Char’s Landing. The team will screen the film Painkiller: Inside the Opioid Crisis and welcome questions and conversation.

Says Marilyn, “I try to smile at anyone I see who looks dejected or lost and say a friendly word or two. I vividly remember hearing that such a greeting caused one young man to go for help rather than commit suicide. It’s an easy thing to do. Smile. It’s a little step but it might make a difference.”

READ MORE: ‘Every person has a family, a story and a future’

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve issues cougar warning at Kennedy Lake

Cougar encounter reported between Tofino and Ucluelet.

Deadline looming for North Island College scholarship applications

Students have until April 24 to apply for a record number of… Continue reading

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select routes

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries to be sold on Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

Hupacasath First Nation re-elects entire council for new term

Steven Tatoosh takes helm for fifth term as chief, talks economic prosperity for future

Young Professionals of the Alberni Valley seek members, new partnerships

Next Alberni Connect event is Thursday, April 18

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Howe Sound Queen sailing toward retirement

Vessel now up for auction ends regular runs between Crofton and Vesuvius at the beginning of June

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

Tony Friesen was working in one of the units of his Penticton building when he heard shots

Foreign national arrested in connection to thefts at YVR

A woman, 60, is being held in police custody as Richmond RCMP investigate

Police pursue pesky porker on Vancouver Island

‘This was allegedly not the pig’s first escape’

Westjet tries again to dismiss proposed class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination

Former flight attendant claims airline broke contractual promise to create harassment-free workplace

Man airlifted to hospital after apparent hunting incident in East Kootenay

The man was in stable condition when he was flown out of Fairmont Hot Springs to a Calgary hospital

Most Read