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Agencies team up for open house on addiction, mental health

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Tara Jeffrey

When Laurie Hicks went out into the community to spread the word about the opening of seven new addiction withdrawal beds at Bluewater Health, she was struck by the feedback.

“I was surprised at how many people were unaware of the services that Bluewater Health has for withdrawal management and substance abuse treatment,” said the hospital’s patient and family advocate for addictions residential treatment.

“And from that, I was hearing more about other services that I didn’t even know about.

To inform others about what’s available locally, Hicks is launching the community’s first Addiction and Mental Health Awareness Recovery Day and Open House on Sept. 22.

Twenty-four local programs and agencies will be at the Unifor Local 914 Hall offering information and answering questions from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., along with a free barbecue and free Naloxone/Narcan kits provided by Lambton Public Health. (Naloxone is a drug that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose).

“The response has been overwhelming,” said Hicks, pointing to the long list of participants, including Canadian Mental Health Association, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, the Women’s Interval Home, Aamjiwnaang First Nation Health Care and St. Clair Child & Youth.

“People seem to be pretty excited about it, so hopefully we have a large crowd, because all the information will be there.”

Hicks lost her son Ryan in 2015 to a fentanyl addiction he’d fought hard to overcome.

She’s been a strong advocate and was hired as a project assistant to work on a much-anticipated permanent withdrawal management facility for Sarnia.

Officials are still awaiting word from the province on where the 24-bed residential facility will be located.

In the meantime, an interim seven-bed facility launched in January has seen more than 300 admissions to date.

“It’s showing the desperate need for more beds,” she said, noting anyone struggling with addiction can call 519-332-4673 (HOPE) to speak to a counsellor for more information.

“I want people to be able to speak openly, and not be afraid to ask for help or ask questions,” she said.

“There’s nothing wrong with reaching out for help. And there’s no one fix for everybody, so there’s many options out there and we’ll help you find the right ones.”



WHAT: Addiction and Mental Health Awareness Recovery Day and Open House

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 22, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

WHERE: Unifor Hall, 900 Devine St., Sarnia

DETAILS: Event is free and open to the public; includes free barbecue, free Naloxone/Narcan kits provided by Lambton Public Health. For more contact [email protected]



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