How did we get here? This is a question on many Albertans’ minds regarding the opioid crisis. The issue is widespread its effects can be seen across southwest communities – both urban and rural.
Luckily, libraries across southwest Alberta are answering the call for factual and relevant information through upcoming Opioid Information Sessions, which will take place this fall. The sessions have been coordinated through Chinook Arch Regional Library System, thanks to a grant received from the Government of Alberta’s Opioid Response Public Awareness Grants for Communities, which is administered by the Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN).
“Libraries, whether urban or rural, are frontline spaces with frontline workers who are facing community crises head on,” says Lisa Weekes, Manager of Partnerships and Community Development at Chinook Arch. “They are also powerful advocates for addressing current community needs. When the funding opportunity opened up, we knew libraries could take the lead on bringing accurate information and resources to the forefront so that communities could become educated on supports and resources available to them.”
When planning the information sessions, Weekes reached out to Jill Manning from ARCHES Lethbridge to partner. Manning, Managing Director for ARCHES, had presented at multiple Chinook Arch events and the feedback was always positive. ARCHES had also been looking for ways to reach the rural population and the grant required that sessions be focused on rural communities. Also, because libraries are safe, neutral spaces, it made them the ideal place to tackle this difficult subject.
“These sessions are being offered to educate community members about the ongoing Opioid Crisis,” says Manning. “Many people, particularly in rural areas, lack the opportunity to get accurate information that is relevant to their lives; this can lead to misunderstanding and confusion around what is a complex and frightening topic for many.”
She goes on to explain that ARCHES strives to provide information in relevant, accessible, and easily-digestible terms so that citizens can get a better picture of the issues that are affecting their communities and ways that they can help combat this public health crisis.
“Although many people feel powerless in the face of a public health crisis, there is much that can be done from an individual perspective to help alleviate the pressures that our communities are facing,” says Manning. “Community members can receive training on: how to recognize and reverse an overdose (including the administration of Naloxone to potentially save a life), risk factors and indicators of substance misuses among their friends and family members, and education on drug use apparatus that they may not otherwise recognize. Citizens are also encouraged to become advocates for increased addictions services in their communities, including supports offered through harm reduction, detox, treatment, and rehabilitation based programs.”
The sessions, which take place in September and October, are one hour long and are open to the public. They will be followed by a half hour of optional Naloxone training for those interested.
Information covered in the sessions includes:
· What opioids are and how they work biologically
· Signs and symptoms of an overdose
· What to do it you expect an overdose
· Explanation of Naloxone and where to access kits
Opioid Information Sessions
Thursday, September 20
Coaldale Public Library
7:00 – 8:00 PM
Tuesday, October 2
Raymond Public Library
7:00 – 8:00 PM
Wednesday, October 3
Pincher Creek Municipal Library
6:30 – 7:30 PM
Thursday, October 11
Taber Public Library
7:00 – 8:00 PM