Substance abuse affects people from all walks of life

Organizers of Chatham-Kent’s International Overdose Awareness Day campaign say they hope residents take the message that people experiencing substance abuse come from “all walks of life.”

Jordynne Lindsay, a public health nurse with the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit, holds a nasal spray naloxone kit in this file photo. (Tom Morrison, Postmedia Network)

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Organizers of Chatham-Kent’s International Overdose Awareness Day campaign say they hope residents embrace the message that people experiencing substance abuse can come from “all walks of life.”

Marjorie Crew, co-ordinator for the Chatham-Kent Drug Awareness Council, said the event is partially about moving away from stereotypes some have associated with drug use.

“It’s not just the picture you have in your mind of someone who is abusing drugs, but, you know, seniors (taking prescription drugs) could easily overdose and not know it,” she said.

The awareness day is Monday.

Because of the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, the usual memorial service will be streamed through Facebook Live starting at 11 a.m., Crew said.

“When someone loses someone, it doesn’t make it any less hurtful because of the way they died,” Crew said. “We have to remember them for who they were.”

According to Public Health Ontario, four people in Chatham-Kent died from conditions related to opioid use in 2018 while two people died in the first nine months of 2019.

There were also 19 hospitalizations and 70 emergency department visits in 2018 related to opioid use.

The council also launched a campaign, which will last until Sept. 3. It involves social media messages, discussions on local radio stations and purple ribbons placed in different communities in Chatham-Kent in memory of those who have died or suffered injury due to a drug overdose.

The social media campaign will mostly be held on the awareness council’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CKDAC and the @ckdac Instagram account.

Purple T-shirts were also being sold out of the United Way of Chatham-Kent office for $10 while supplies lasted.

“We’re pretty pleased with the amount of moving parts to it this year, which is a little different,” Crew said.

She said she hopes more people will take notice of the event this year by having a campaign spread over several days.

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