Cowichan Lake area residents probably learned more about the opioid crisis and addictions than they wanted to hear but the reaction was positive to an information night held at Lake Cowichan School April 19.
Dr. Shannon Waters, Cindy Lise, Stacy Middlemiss, Chief Georgina Livingstone of Lake Cowichan First Nation and others shared their experiences and information and answered questions, attempting to bring everyone up to speed on the escalating crisis in the whole Valley and how the entire community needs to be aware of it.
Livingstone gave some examples from her own experience, talking about friends and family who had battled addiction, many as the fallout from living in residential schools.
Middlemiss spoke movingly of her own fight with alcoholism. She’s been sober now for seven years and her story really touched the crowd, who gave her a warm round of applause. She now frequently works with the disadvantaged and those who are dealing with addictions.
Middlemiss has also become famous across the continent for her Caring with Cookies campaign.
Both she and Livingstone told the crowd that anyone struggling the dependence issues needs a loving, understanding community around them.
Waters said that the most important factors were those seen or found in every community: low cost of alcohol, high availability of substances, community laws and norms favourable to substance use, media portrayal of alcohol use, low attachment to neighbourhoods, community disorganization, low socioeconomic status, and transitions and mobility.
But there is hope, she said, if families, schools and communities get together to offer opportunities for positive social involvement, recognition for positive behaviour, bonding, marriage or committed relationships, and improvement of health beliefs and standards of behaviour.
Livingstone also talked to the crowd, speaking about her experiences with friends and family and addiction.
In her wrap up to Lake Cowichan town council about the meeting, Coun. Carolyne Austin said the turnout was impressive and so was the event, especially Middlemiss, whose sharing of her own background, and her challenge to the audience really brought home that concerns about addiction are real.