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

(File photo)
Poverty reduction survey identifies 10 poverty themes

Poverty reduction plan will be finalized in July 2021

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly says he has no intentions of leaving the Green Party. (House of Commons image)
Island Green MPs have “no intention” of leaving the party after ‘heartbreaking’ departure

Manly, May only remaining Green MPs after Jenica Atwin left for the Liberals over internal disputes

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Justine Keefer’s Cedar Elementary School Grade 6/7 class put together a student paper, as part of a school project. Pictured here Andrew Gregory, left, Felix Leduc, Addison Armstrong, Lucia Walker and Anise Dick. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Cedar Elementary School students create their own newspaper

Grade 6/7 class publishes Wolf Pack News as part of language arts and social studies

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

Most Read