It is no surprise to anyone living in Chatham-Kent that there is definitely a drug problem in our community.
One simply has to read the police incident reports or a be front-line health care worker to see the real harm substance use can bring to individuals and families fighting addiction.
The Chatham-Kent Drug Awareness Council, with board members made of community partners from mental health, public health, pharmacists, council members and police, is making strides in identifying the problems locally through real numbers, real people and those who are equipped to help.
With the C-K Public Health opioid study completed in February, quantitative facts are now available, and although the numbers may be low due to issues with how opioid poisoning deaths and ER visits are compiled, it is a starting point to plan for the future.
Looking at what is helping the problem and what is hurting, C-K Public Health is moving forward community solutions to a community problem. The first is identifying root causes to prevent substance use in the first place and making people aware that opioid use knows no social boundaries – rich, poor, educated, no formal education – anyone is susceptible to become dependent on prescription drugs.
The second is educating the public, including prescribers and priority populations about the potential harm of opioid use, and reducing the stigma so no one is afraid to seek help, and the third is better access to treatment, an emergency response plan and collaboration/coordination of services for people with a substance use problem.
The problem here isn’t going to go away on its own, and the police, community agencies and treatment facilities need the public’s help and support to make some headway.
The amount of theft to support substance use has become frustrating for everyone involved, but instead of judging and saying, “Lock them all up,” how about we use our compassion and capacity for good to volunteer, support monetarily, and generally be helpful to agencies like CKDAC who are trying to find solutions that work for everyone involved?
As Brad Davis, president of the Drug Awareness Council said, we all have a part to play in ending the harms that come from substance use and helping make our community a better place for all its residents.