Overdoses and overdose-related deaths are often reported as numbers to the public, but those who work with people who use drugs never lose sight of the individuals behind them. Everyone has a story and everyone matters.
Overdoses begin long before a substance is taken into the body, and this is something that those reading about the overdose crisis don’t always consider. If you need to bust a little stigma in your community, these pieces that have come out over the past month serve as a good reminder that the overdose epidemic is about much more than drugs.
Drug use and adverse childhood experiences
This opinion piece from Dr. Trina Larsen Soles (president of Doctors of BC) touches on the ties long before drugs are in hand, to the foundation of peoples’ sense of themselves in the world. She writes,
“Another potential response [to the crisis] could deepen our public understanding and shift our approach to a more compassionate and effective outcome: recognizing and addressing the underlying role of adverse childhood experiences — ACEs — and how they make individuals more vulnerable to substance use. ACEs are identified with questions about exposure to physical, sexual or emotional abuse, parental addiction, divorce, domestic violence, and other forms of trauma or neglect”
Read Opioid crisis seen through the lens of adverse childhood experiences
A summit looking at adverse childhood experiences was held in the late fall of 2017. See agenda
A year in the life
This article from the New York Times follows an American family that wants others to understand the multiple impacts of drug use. “Drug deaths draw the most notice, but more addicted people live than die. For them and their families, life can be a relentless cycle of worry, hope and chaos. In the 20 years that Patrick has been using drugs, he has lost track of how many times he has overdosed. He guesses 30, a number experts say would not be surprising for someone taking drugs off and on for that long.”
The world drug perception problem: countering prejudices about people who use drugs
If a formal report will serve your needs better, the Global Commission on Drug Policy has released a report called The world drug perception problem: countering prejudices about people who use drugs.
“The report aims to analyze the most common perceptions and fears, contrast them with available evidence on drugs and the people who use them, and provides recommendations on changes that must be enacted to support reforms toward more effective drug policies.”
Questions? Feedback? Get in touch! Janet Madsen, Capacity Building and Knowledge Translation Coordinator,[email protected]
Image: Focus by Andrew, Flickr (Creative Commons)