By Treena Mielke
Tricia Peden and Keira VanderVliet, speakers from Turning Point, a harm reduction agency based out of Red Deer, gave an informative and sobering presentation on drugs, focusing on fentanyl and the opioid crisis.
The presentation was held at the Rimbey United Church, following a poverty supper sponsored by the Rimbey Chapter of Amnesty International on Sun. Nov. 18 and about 25 people were in attendance.
VanderVliet, who admitted to extensive drug usage before making the choice to turn his life around and help others, said drug use affects families and communities.
“Absolutely, it’s in your back yard.”
Fentanyl, a drug that became popular in the ’90s for use in palliative care, is now inexpensive, readily available and a hundred times stronger than morphine or heroin, the presenters stated.
They noted that it only takes one grain of fentanyl to get a user high and two grains could be enough to cause an overdose.
The signs of an overdose include slow, erratic breathing, a limp body, pale and clammy skin and blue nails, lips and tongue. Choking or gurgling, vomiting and unresponsiveness to painful stimulus are other signs.
Anyone who comes upon a person who may be suffering from an overdose should call 911, stay calm, provide rescue breathing and administer Naloxone if available, the presenters said.
Do not throw the person into a cold shower, they warned.
Naloxone kits, which are free and can quickly reverse the effects of an overdose from opioids such as fentanyl, were available to those in attendance.
People use substances for a number of reasons. These may include to feel good, because of boredom, as a means of self medicating, and/or to escape family and mental health issues.
In keeping with Turning Points philosophy to help those with drug related issues, and are among the invisibly homeless, drop off boxes for gently used gloves, heavy socks, scarves and coats have been set up at Rimbey Library and Neighbourhood Place. These items will be supplied to Turning Point and will be distributed to people on the street by workers at the harm reduction agency.