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 – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Trees blown over by a windstorm in forest owned by Anderson Creek Timber. Photo: Anderson Creek Timber
Timber company logging near Nelson raises local concerns

Anderson Creek Timber owns 600 hectares of forest adjacent to the city

Keith Smyth, Kootenay Savings director at-large joins children from the Kids’ Care Centre at St. Michael’s Catholic School. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay Savings continues credit union’s tradition of giving

Funding totalling $48,250, is going to a wide array of Kootenay initiatives

From left: Karl Luedtke (West Arm Outdoors Club), Dale Williams (BCWF), Molly Teather (FLNORD), Gord Grunerud (West Arm Outdoors Club), Eugene Volokhov (Grand Prize Winner), Casey McKinnon and Lex Jones (Jones Boys Boats). Photo: Tammy White, Whitelight Photography
Balfour man lands big prize from angler incentive program

Eugene Volokhov of Balfour is now the proud owner of a sleek 18-foot Kingfisher boat

“I want to see the difference in the world, embrace it, celebrate it … ” Photo: David Cantelli/Unsplash
A new way to say ‘Hello’

“Inclusion, you see, is NOT about making us all the same.”

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read