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Event Aims to Increase Awareness of Opioid Issues in City

May 7, 2013 – Community members and service providers gathered at the Italian Cultural Centre today to take part in ‘Recovery in Focus: Understanding Opioid Dependence and Recovery’, an event aimed at increasing awareness, education and understanding around opioid issues in Thunder Bay.

Presented by the Drug Awareness Committee (DAC) and funded by the Thunder Bay Community Foundation, the event showcased science-based knowledge about harms and interventions and stories of recovery from people with lived experience.  Exhibitors were also on hand to share local wellness and recovery resources.  

“Stigma profoundly affects people with addictions and mental health issues, preventing them from seeking treatments, affecting the quality of treatment they receive and limiting their ability to find employment, gain stable housing and find meaningful connection to their community,” said Cynthia Olsen, Drug Strategy Coordinator. “We need to shift attitudes about addictions in our community, and dispel myths surrounding treatment options such as methadone and Suboxone.”

“We need to take a population health approach to the extraordinarily high levels of prescription opioid consumption in this country,” says Dr. Benedikt Fischer, international opioid expert and keynote speaker at the event. In his address he discussed the challenges of prescription opioid misuse, harms and interventions in Canada.

DAC developed the project as one of the prevention and education priorities from the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy, and engaged with people with lived experience as champions to tell their stories of recovery and help shift attitudes.

“For a long time people viewed opiate treatment as just another way of giving drugs to users,” said Tannice Fletcher-Stackhouse, a local service provider involved in the project. “This thinking still lingers, but the good news is that we all believe in good health and safe communities, and recovery is possible.”

"I feel that it is important to share our stories so that people understand what we have gone through," says Dana Nobis, one of the participants sharing their story of recovery.

For more information on the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy visit:

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Contact:     Cynthia Olsen, Drug Strategy Coordinator, 625-2942
                  Sheena Albanese, Co-Chair – Drug Awareness Committee, 625-5980