Currently the community is in a heightened state of awareness regarding drug use. Our awareness of overdose deaths is highlighted daily in social media and mainstream media. Visually presented are the lives lost, pictures of the location where another soul has lost the battle and the confronting distressed images of those who are left behind. The ripple effect of drug use spills out into families, friends and the wider community. Our time has come to confront the harms as a whole of community approach rather than individuals fighting alone against the grain.
Adding to our current difficulties are the vast range of new substances that are appearing on our streets which are presenting new and unpredictable issues. With each new substance a new learning must take place on how we, the community, respond to that drug in terms of reducing harms, keeping people safe and treatment for recovery. The rise in the use of Fentanyl globally and the subsequent overdose deaths has concerned authorities, drug and alcohol treatment services, first responders and families enough that a call to action has been made to work together to address and prevent further deaths.
Change is happening in Victoria with the announcement of a medically supervised injecting facility something that is long overdue. At the moment one will be set up and opened in Richmond and hopefully with evidence procured of its success others will open in outer suburbs where many of the hidden number of injecting users reside.
Other initiatives taking hold in the community include the training and use of Naloxone to assist in responding to an opiate overdose. Ginny McKinnon at Regen in Coburg provides comprehensive training and awareness education for those working in the aod sector, for community members and for those who may have a friend or loved one who is at risk of overdose. This response to our current overdose deaths rates and increased use of injecting opiates will save lives and raise awareness.
As a community we can no longer turn our backs and leave the struggle of drug use and/or addiction to the individual. The time has come to step aside from the blame and conversation that it has been the user’s choice and move to the thinking that yes the initial use was choice but addiction wasn’t. I have heard many people say they can control their drug use confident they will not succumb to addiction only to find themselves gripped by many of the criteria that determines addiction.