Moose Jaw Addictions Awareness Week aims to bust drug use stigma

A group of Moose Jaw community organizations is hosting a week of events designed aimed at improving understanding about substance use disorder.

“We really want people to know that having a stigma, and treating people differently because they have a substance use disorder, may prevent them from seeking out the help,” said Moose Jaw Crystal Meth Strategy Committee (MJCMSC) Program Coordinator Mary Lee Booth.

“We certainly wouldn’t treat anybody with diabetes, or cancer or any other medical disorder this way.”

Booth says Moose Jaw Police Service data shows both simple possession and possession with intent to traffic charges have increased significantly since 2015.

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While Booth says substances like opioids are making their way into Moose Jaw, crystal meth is still the “drug of choice.”

“Several years ago a number of service organizations were noticing a notable increase in the use of crystal meth,” Booth said, of the motivation behind creating MJCMSC.

“I came from health care. In our area we were noticing more people coming in crystal meth-affected to emergency departments and inpatient mental health units. And what we do know is that about fifty per cent of people accessing detox centres and treatment services are admitting to use of crystal meth.

Addictions Awareness Week events include an exploration of current drug trends in Moose Jaw, on November 22, and a video screening of “Stop Mething Around: A Family Affair” at the Moose Jaw Public Library on the 24.

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Those events will be in-person.

“The video focuses on the experience of a family member who has a loved one affected by crystal meth addiction,” Booth explained.

There are two more online events, One will provide detailed background on the substance. The other is aimed at helping parents talk to their kids about usage.

Additionally, the John Howard Society will be hosting a presentation on Naloxone, a medicine that rapidly reverses opioid overdose.

“We really want to highlight the issue of addiction, and in particular highlight the issue of stigma. Anybody can become addicted to a substance including alcohol or cannabis,” Booth said.

“It can be anybody of any gender, age, socioeconomic status. People who become addicted don’t intend to. It really is the substance, the drug, that’s the enemy, not the person using it.”

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MJCMSC will be joined by the Moose Jaw Police Service, the Moose Jaw Public Library, Service, Medavie Health Services West, the John Howard Society, Wakamow Manor Detox, Square One Community Inc., Journey to Hope, and the Saskatchewan Health Authority in programming the week.

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In-person events will require proof-of-vaccination or a recent negative test for attendance.

More information can be found online.

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