Sandy Macdougall.

Sidewinder: Commitment of a community

What is now important is for more of us to realize that we can play a role in dealing with fentanyl and other deadly drugs.

Recently, following the death of a friend’s son due to an overdose of fentanyl, I questioned, when will the hurting end?

The answer to that question is still unclear, but hope is emerging that our community cares and is willing to work together to bring to an end the epidemic of drug overdose deaths.

In the past, I have complained bitterly about drug use and drug trafficking in our downtown neighbourhood. But the time has come to put an end to the blame game and join the growing number of dedicated people who are earnestly seeking ways to solve the myriad of problems involved in this terrible ongoing tragedy.

Nowhere has there been greater evidence of the commitment of those dedicated people than at the public forum on fentanyl held Wednesday night at Westview high school.

From community leaders to admitted drug users, hundreds of people crowded into the Westview gymnasium to hear messages of hope interlaced with desperate accounts of tragic losses resulting from fentanyl overdoses.

The forum was co-sponsored by Fraser Health, School District No. 42, Alouette Addictions, the RCMP, and the City of Maple Ridge, with the Maple Ridge Fire Department and ambulance service also providing strong support.

I am certain that nobody in that crowded gymnasium had ever imagined in their worst nightmares that there would come a time in our rural community when the impact of drug overdoses would draw such huge numbers of people.

Like it was said in the Wizard of Oz: “You’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.”

Drawn to the forum out of curiosity and because of past tragedies involving drug addiction in my own family, I didn’t expect to discover the depth of knowledge, expertise and empathy of the panel members. Their caring attitude goes well beyond professionalism.

Until I listened to the various panel members speak and later spoke to some of them, I was more than a bit cynical about any good resulting from the forum. But that cynicism was replaced with respect and admiration for the positive approach of every speaker.

In a short conversation following the forum, my friend, who lost his son due to an overdose of fentanyl, said the forum was excellent and would help more people understand the nature and extent of the problem.

Still coming to grips with his own grief, he said it was vital to inform people about the nature of the drugs involved and to let them know where they can get help.

It does little good to sit in moral judgment of anyone cursed with addiction to drugs. It really doesn’t matter how we got to this point.

What is now important is for more of us to realize that we can play a role in dealing with fentanyl and other deadly drugs.

We have to become willing to face this challenge and to set aside the notion that the dangers of drug overdoses and drug use can’t affect our families and loved ones. Even the first use of many of these drugs can be fatal.

We have to accept that fentanyl and other deadly drugs can and do affect the lives of everyone in our community, not just the highly visible drug addicts we see on our downtown streets.

Parents, friends, teachers and loved ones who wonder about their children must not feel ashamed to ask questions and to seek help. Alone, we might not be able to solve these problems, but together, perhaps we can save a few lives.

It’s worth the effort.

Contact Fraser Health, the City of Maple Ridge, Alouette Addictions, the RCMP and many other agencies for help and answers to questions about fentanyl and other drugs.

 

– Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former city councillor.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

IN IT TOGETHER: Important to move your butt

Maple Ridge mom offers series of wellness columns aimed at helping navigate through COVID-19

LOOKING BACK: Quarantine back in the day of the Spanish flu kept Maple Ridge safe

When the 1918 epidemic hit Haney, washing hands, respecting isolation rules, and disinfecting helped

Council conduct bylaw under scrutiny in Maple Ridge

Bylaw being questioned at Committee of the Whole Tuesday afternoon

Pitt Meadows to host live virtual city council meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Mayor Dingwall updates on new initiatives and city staffing

Haney Bypass section closed for Easter long weekend

Bypass improvements expected to be completed later this year

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Air Canada says it will apply for wage subsidy to rehire workers after cutting 16,500 jobs

Air Canada said March revenues fell by more than 30 per cent year over year

Canadians urged to include pets in their COVID-19 emergency plans

That includes plans about who will care for them if the owner is hospitalized

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19 world update: Joy in Wuhan as lockdown lifted; Pope denounces profiteers

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news items from around the world

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

Most Read