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Column: B.C.’s drug poisoning crisis isn’t simple, but the Tri-Cities is stepping up to fight it

"Even if only one per cent of the people we reach are impacted by our talks [...] and lives will be saved."
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Chloe Goodison, an SFU student from Port Moody, examines a bottle of Naloxone. She's prepared a program known as NaloxHome, in conjunction with School District 43, to teach high school students to recognize the signs of an overdose and administer the antidote.

The following column was submitted to the Tri-City News from Chloe Goodison, founder of NaloxHome — a Tri-Cities-based organization that looks to educate and reduce the stigma behind B.C.'s overdose crisis.

As we set foot into 2022, I think we can all agree that 2021 was heavy. 

We physically saw the effects of our climate emergency  catastrophic flooding, heatwaves, cold snaps and fires.

We faced another year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought restrictions, uncertainty, and crowded hospitals.

Global eyes looked to Canada after the discovery of unmarked graves on former residential school sites, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission expects there to be more than 3,200 of the disgraceful burials.

Mental illness has become much more prevalent since COVID-19 started, especially amongst youth. As well, B.C.’s drug poisoning crisis saw its deadliest year on record.

These situations sit amongst many other events that tested our province’s resiliency this year.

Not-so-fun fact: All of these events have direct effects on each other. 

Everyone, no matter their circumstance, was touched by these events.

However, it’s important to recognize the positive aspects of 2021, too.

If there is one thing I am grateful for as we head into 2022, it’s our community.

Through all the climate destruction, COVID-19 devastation and every other limit-pushing event that 2021 threw at us, the Tri-Cities (and beyond) rose up to the challenges.

In hopes of conquering the mental health and drug poisoning epidemics, specifically amongst youth, NaloxHome  a proud Tri-Cities-based organization — was born. 

NaloxHome wouldn’t be possible without the support of our community.

Some key community supports include Fraser Health, SHARE Society, SD43, SFU Office of Community Engagement, Sharon Perry & Associates CPA, Access Youth Services, A3 Creative Solutions, Port Moody Soccer Club, Westwood Printing & Signs and every business/individual associated with the Tri-Cities Community Action Team.

From all of us at NaloxHome, we thank you for your role in our development.

NaloxHome officially launched in June 2021. Since then, we’ve made an impact that’s far greater than I ever would have predicted.

Here’s a recap of our year:

  • We have reached 1,500 students total  between SD43, SFU Student Unions and Trinity Western University
  • We have facilitated numerous Community Presentations — all together, teaching more than 60 people about naloxone and stigma reduction
  • We have been featured in multiple large medias, including CBC News, The Peak News, the Tri-City News and Spice Radio
  • Already, we have secured more than $8,500 in funding
  • We built a REALLY cool website — thank you Sharon Perry & A3 Creative Solutions
  • We hosted a booth at International Overdose Awareness Day with the TCCAT
  • We have had more 25 local youth as part of our team
  • We organized a warm clothing drive for Tri-Cities’ only low-barrier housing option, 3030 Gordon Ave., in Coquitlam (so far, we’ve collected more than 100 bags of clothing)
  • We established goals to bring NaloxHome to UBC, SFU and beyond
  • Above all, we became the only all-youth harm-reduction awareness and naloxone training group in our region

Success aside, our whole team is drawn together by a common passion: to end B.C.’s drug poisoning crisis.

This task is vastly multidisciplinary – and we aim to tackle as many facets as possible.

From the inter-generational effects of colonization to the current mental illness pandemic, and so many interconnected factors in between, it’s important to remember that B.C.’s drug poisoning crisis isn’t simple.

This message is loudly projected in each of our presentations, in hopes of undoing the idea that avoidance of drug use is as easy as “just saying no.”

By teaching our community about naloxone, stigma reduction, addiction, overdose first aid and the importance of being an active bystander, we hope to make a measurable impact.

Even if only one per cent of the people we reach are impacted by our talks, we consider that a success  and lives will be saved. 

I recently came across a quote by the late Desmond Tutu, and I find it encompasses NaloxHome’s exact goals of early intervention, addiction root awareness and stigma reduction.

It reads: “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they're falling in.”

May 2022 bring you moments of peace, motivation and connectedness into your lives.

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