From Treena Mielke
Tricia Peden and Keira VanderVliet, keynote speakers at Turning Point, a harm reduction agency based in Red Deer, gave a sobering and informative presentation on drugs focusing on fentanyl and the opiate crisis.
The presentation was held at Rimbey United Church after a poverty dinner sponsored by Amnesty International's Rimbey Chapter on Sunday. November 18 and about 25 people were present.
VanderVliet, who admitted extensive drug use before making the decision to change his life and help others, said drug use affects families and communities.
"Absolutely, it's in your backyard."
Fentanyl, a drug that became popular in the 1990s for use in palliative care, is now cheap, readily available, and a hundred times stronger than morphine or heroin, the presenters said.
They noticed that it takes only a grain of fentanyl to get a high user and two grains could be enough to cause an overdose.
Signs of an overdose include slow, erratic breathing, a flaccid body, pale, sticky skin, and blue nails, lips, and tongue. Suffocation or gurgle, vomiting and lack of response to painful stimuli are other signs.
Anyone who comes across 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 in a cold shower, they warned.
Naloxone kits, which are free and can quickly reverse the effects of an overdose of opiates such as fentanyl, were available to participants.
People use substances for various reasons. These may include feeling good about boredom as a means of self-medicating and / or escaping mental and family health problems.
Following the Turning Points philosophy to help those with drug-related problems, and among the invisible homeless, delivery boxes for used gloves with care, heavy socks, scarves and coats were created at Rimbey Library and Neighborhood Place. These items will be provided to the Turning Point and will be distributed to people on the street by damage reduction agency workers.