Jodi Higgs (right) holds a vial of naloxone and Christine Christensen holds a kit in the parking lot of the Pacific Community Resources Society in Chilliwack on Thursday, May 20, 2021. The society is offering a number of upcoming events, workshops and videos to help educate friends and family members who have loved ones that are drug users. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Jodi Higgs (right) holds a vial of naloxone and Christine Christensen holds a kit in the parking lot of the Pacific Community Resources Society in Chilliwack on Thursday, May 20, 2021. The society is offering a number of upcoming events, workshops and videos to help educate friends and family members who have loved ones that are drug users. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Educating family, friends key to helping ‘hidden’ population of substance users

Naloxone training one of many ways to help folks closest to unseen population of opioid users

A series of free naloxone training workshops geared specifically towards family members and friends of people struggling with substance use will be starting up next month in one B.C. city.

It’s just one of the many ways Pacific Community Resources Society (PCRS) in Chilliwack is educating those closest to the people who are using.

“We’re in the midst of an overdose crisis,” said Jodi Higgs, manager of Chilliwack Health and Housing Centre, which is part of PCRS. “When we think about the overdose crisis and overdose deaths, we think about the people living on the street. Although those folks are also overdosing, the disproportionate number of people who are dying in the Eastern Fraser Valley, 72 per cent of them are in their own homes.”

The majority of those 72 per cent are family men aged 29 to 49 who are married with kids, and adult children who still live with their parents (or have returned home to live with their parents). Most work in the construction trades industries and they are not the type of people who would walk into the Chilliwack Health and Housing Centre to pick up harm reduction supplies.

“There’s a lot of shame and stigma around it.”

RELATED: B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

It was last year when the pandemic hit that it became apparent PCRS needed to shift their focus to support the friends and family members of the users and provide them with the tools, skills, confidence and language needed to help their loved ones.

“It really hit us hard that in order to reach the hidden population, we have to reach the friends and family of these folks,” Higgs said. “They are the ones who are closest, the ones who know or may suspect but are afraid to broach those topics, and they are the ones that can really make a difference in the stigma and the shame.”

On June 1, the first of several free naloxone training workshops will take place in the parking lot of Chilliwack Health and Housing Centre. They run through the month of June every Tuesday (twice a day) and then every second Tuesday for the month of July (also twice a day).

Christine Christensen (left) and Jodi Higgs with Pacific Community Resources Society in Chilliwack are offering a number of upcoming events, workshops and videos to help educate friends and family members who have loved ones that are drug users. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Christine Christensen (left) and Jodi Higgs with Pacific Community Resources Society in Chilliwack are offering a number of upcoming events, workshops and videos to help educate friends and family members who have loved ones that are drug users. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Thanks to thousands of dollars in grants, PCRS in Chilliwack has been able to do a lot more to help the friends and family members.

In addition to the naloxone training, they have put together three videos that will be released mid-June. One talks about statistics, another is a “lived experience” where a local man who’s in recovery tells his story, and the third focuses on Chilliwack paramedics who talk specifically about attending overdose calls to homes.

They have also hired a part-time counsellor who specializes in helping family and friends, and she is working on putting together resource guides for them. And recently, the local PCRS centre has introduced in-person group sessions in addition to their online ones.

Higgs adds that people need to move away from the idea that abstinence is the goal.

The goal is to “reduce the harm, reduce the death, increase the connection and relationship” and create a safe and shame-free place at home, she said.

“That has to be the biggest shift for friends and family. The connection is what’s going to save these folks,” Higgs said. “With the right support these folks can establish some sense of boundaries and know that they are doing as much as they can.”

To sign up for one of the parking lot naloxone training workshops, call 604-798-1416 to register. Training is being offered twice a day every Tuesday in June and every other Tuesday in July from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at 45921 Hocking Ave. Free naloxone kits will also be handed out.

RELATED: B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

Jodi Higgs (right) holds a vial of naloxone and Christine Christensen holds a kit in the parking lot of the Pacific Community Resources Society in Chilliwack on Thursday, May 20, 2021. The society is offering a number of upcoming events, workshops and videos to help educate friends and family members who have loved ones that are drug users. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Jodi Higgs (right) holds a vial of naloxone and Christine Christensen holds a kit in the parking lot of the Pacific Community Resources Society in Chilliwack on Thursday, May 20, 2021. The society is offering a number of upcoming events, workshops and videos to help educate friends and family members who have loved ones that are drug users. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on?
Email: jenna.hauck@theprogress.com
Twitter: @PhotoJennalism

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

B.C. overdosesopioid crisisopioid deaths

Just Posted

Prince Charles Secondary School
School District 8 votes in favour of name change for Creston’s high school

In an act of reconciliation, a new name will be chosen for the former Prince Charles Secondary School

A new doctor has been recruited for the Creston Valley. (Pixabay)
New doctor recruited for the Creston Valley

Dr. Luke Turanich is expected to begin practice in late summer/early fall

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

Valerie Halliday, Tuck Shop co-ordinator, presented a cheque of $30,000 in funds to Jason Schinbein, manager of clinical operations at the Creston Valley Hospital. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Handmade Heroes: Tuck Shop donates $30,000 to Creston Valley Hospital

The donation will be used to purchase new equipment at the hospital

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister speaks at a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski
Provincial leaders want more federal money for health care, plan to meet in fall

Premiers ask Ottawa to increase its share of overall health spending to 35 per cent from 22 per cent

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

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

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

Himalayan Life helped finance the construction of Nepal’s Yangri Academic Centre and dormitories after a 2015 earthquake devastated the valley, killing more than 9,000 people. (Screen grab/Peter Schaeublin)
B.C. charity founder pledges to rebuild Nepalese school swept away by flash floods

Six years after an earthquake killed more than 9,000 people, Nepal faces another catastrophy

Most Read