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

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

People participated in a walk to honour the 215 children found at a former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential school survivors. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day with walk to remember Kamloops 215

“Let’s speak the truth and deal with the truth, and heal.”

Kelowna Cabs’ dispatchers will be coming back to work now that their union and the taxi company have come to an agreement. (Facebook/Kelowna Cabs)
Kelowna Cabs dispatchers set to go back to work

The taxi company and the dispatchers’ union have reached an agreement

t
Motorcyclist critically injured in Westside Road collision

Motorcyclist collides with vehicle, struck by another: preliminary police findings

People at the beach in front of Discovery Bay Resort on Tuesday, July 14. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Heat wave forecast for Okanagan-Shuswap

Temperatures are forecast to hit record breaking highs this week

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Kelowna mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead

Pair discovered in their Vancouver Island home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Photograph By MICHAEL POTESTIO.KTW
Former Kamloops security gaurd wants job back after kicking incident caught on video

Rick Eldridge quit when a video surfaced of him kicking a man outside a facility for homeless

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

(Black Press file photo)
EDITORIAL: Curtailing attempts at scams

The true total of losses from all scams and frauds could be much higher than the figures on file

Most Read