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Come As You Are; meeting the needs of community members dealing with addiction October 15, 2021 @10:05am

Throughout history, in all cultures of the world, people have used substances to achieve desired physical, mental and emotional effects. A drug can be defined as anything that changes the way your body works, and the reasons people use them vary.

Drugs can provide positive effects for people, such as pain relief or managing stress. Most commonly used in society are legal, regulated, and more socially acceptable such as alcohol or caffeine. Others have been criminalized, and options to purchase only exist on the black market, which causes direct (and indirect) harm to the user and, in turn, our communities.

Illicit drug use is most often recreational/experimental. Most people can manage their use and continue living whole, healthy lives, constantly maintaining abstinence. For a relatively small amount of people (approximately 15%), it can progress to a place that negatively impacts self and others. The results of this are far-ranging. People often experience severe health issues and have a high risk of death to overdose due to an unregulated toxic supply, legal matters, and housing/income/basic needs not being met. Family members also struggle with the disease, including real and perceived stigma and lack of available resources to help a loved one. It is important to recognize that while treatment options are necessary, it is critical to support people where they currently are.

This stage of active use is where we can apply the mantra ‘Come As You Are’ as we must meet people in their current circumstances. Significant changes in drug use are unlikely when providing service by strict appointment schedules, little flexibility and measured adherence to goals not set by the individual.

As a practice, Harm Reduction supports people’s dignity, health, safety, autonomy, and respect of those using drugs. We build trusting relationships and provide support without requiring abstinence or imposing goals. It is non-judgemental, pragmatic, low barrier access, and we offer a range of supports, including referrals to treatment options, safer using education and advocacy.

Throughout a series of contributions, I hope to dispel some common myths about drug use and opioid poisoning and share perspectives about our work in Stettler and rural communities. Turning Point has served as a leading Harm Reduction organization in the Central zone for over 30 years. Also, it offers specific programming for pregnant women, HIV/Hep C/STBBI’s, LGBTQ+, and a variety of Outreach services.

Jenn McCrindle, Rural Outreach

Turning Point


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