Relapses are an initial common occurrence in the substance abuse treatment process. (Contributed)

Part five: The opioid crisis and the North Okanagan

Combatting the stigma surrounding the opioid crisis

In light of the national opioid crisis, Interior Health is asking the public to respond with more compassion in the hopes to help appeal to and transition more people into treatment and recovery.

Dr. Karin Goodison, a Vernon public health officer who works with Interior Health, said that stigma plays a significant role in people’s ability to access services safely.

“We have a lot of work to do in the way of how we view people who use substances,” she said.

Megan Desimone, manager of mental health and substance use services for Vernon Interior Health, agreed.

“Shame and stigmatization is very isolating and it keeps people in these silos and they don’t reach out for help for fear of what the ramifications will be,” Desimone said.

Perhaps one of the most highly debated treatments offered by Interior Health is opioid agonist therapy (OAT). OAT is a treatment for dependency for different types of opioids including heroin, oxycodone, and fentanyl. The therapy involves taking the medications methadone or suboxone to prevent the effects of withdrawal and reduce cravings for opioids.

Methadone treats chronic pain and opioid addiction while suboxone treats opioid dependence only.

“We have the downtown methadone clinic and our staff are embedded in that clinic,” said Desimone.

“It’s a nurse and a support worker and their whole focus is to get people into the program or maintain those who are already in the program.”

Turning Points’ Bill’s Place is a sober living home operating in Vernon.

Brad Houghton, manager of addiction services at Turning Points, said he sees a need for methadone in helping people get sober, but explained that Bill’s Place will not accept people taking methadone.

They will, however, accept people on suboxone.

“We take people on suboxone because it’s a partial agonist. Methadone is a full agonist and really what that means is that on methadone, your brain thinks you’re high,” he said.

“It’s a synthetic opiate so we won’t take someone at Bill’s Place on methadone because it’s an abstinence-based program.”

James (name changed to protect his identity and safety) is a former heroin addict, alcoholic and eventual meth user.

He used methadone as a catalyst to sobriety.

“People do say that you’re not clean if you’re on methadone but if it works for that person, then why not?” he asked.

“Eventually I got used to not being high and then I quit the methadone but a lot of people stay on it forever.”

James has also felt the negative affects of stigma in the face of his addiction. Though he thinks Vernon has made huge strides in the “right direction” in recent years, he still hopes his story has impact and helps shed some light on the struggle many face.

“You never know what somebody has been through so to judge them is pretty hurtful because you could be in their shoes tomorrow,” he said.

“I used to look down on the people downtown because I had a lot of money and I had a family at home but there I was, right next to them, doing the same thing. All I can say is that it happens fast.”

James has relapsed in the past but has successfully remained sober for over two years.

Today, having successfully graduated from Bill’s Place, he prides himself as being a good father.

“I think once we change the stigma around what it is we’re dealing with and if we could get our minds around the idea that these people are sick, then we’ll all be better for it, ” said Houghton. “It would amazing to live in a community that could provide help for the people who are hopeless.”

Part One: The opioid crisis and the B.C. Interior

Part Two: Overdoses overwhelming in B.C. Interior

Part Three: Services offered to combat Vernon’s opioid crisis

Part Four: The opioid crisis and the B.C. Interior

To report a typo, email:
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com
.



Follow me on Twitter @BrieChar
Email me brieanna.charlebois@vernonmorningstar.com
Like us on Facebook.

Just Posted

Zero-emission student housing planned at UBC Okanagan

The Skeena project will open in September 2020

Okanagan chefs battle at Great Kitchen Party

Chef Kai Koroll of 50th Parallel Estate Winery won the event Friday night

Pre-season booming at Big White with Hallmark movie production

Big White is the main drop for Hallmark’s film Alice in Winterland

Kelowna man sentenced to 18 months probation for filming co-workers in washroom

The man was conditionally discharged following a sentencing hearing on Friday

Owner of Lake Country’s controversial Airport Inn charged with assault

Raif Fleihan was charged with assault with a weapon, uttering threats and breach of recognizance

VIDEO: B.C. couple creates three-storey ‘doggie mansion’ for their five pups

Group of seven, who Kylee Ryan has dubbed as the ‘wandering paws,’ have a neat setup in Jade City

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Dallas Smith, Terri Clark to perform on CP Holiday Train’s B.C. stops

Annual festive food bank fundraiser rolling across province from Dec. 11 to 17

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Family of B.C. man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Chilliwack family’s dog missing after using online pet-sitting service

Frankie the pit bull bolted and hit by a car shortly after drop off through Rover.com

B.C. wildlife experts urge hunters to switch ammo to stop lead poisoning in birds

OWL, in Delta, is currently treating two eagles for lead poisoning

Most Read