Health officials seek public help drafting drug strategy

Tara Jeffrey

Officials behind a comprehensive drug and alcohol strategy are hoping to hear from as many Sarnia-Lambton residents as possible through an online survey.

Share Your Voice, (shareyourvoice.ca) invites residents to share feedback by completing a survey or uploading a video detailing how drugs and alcohol have impacted their lives, and provide suggestions on how to bring about change.

“You probably know someone who’s been impacted by drugs or alcohol — maybe a classmate, colleague, loved one or even you,” said Ellie Fraser, mental health and addictions program coordinator at Lambton Public Health.

“What one thing would make the biggest difference to improve the situation for that person or our community regarding drug and alcohol misuse?”
Input from the survey will help shape the Lambton County Community Drug and Alcohol Strategy, which is being developed by public health and 20 other community organizations for implementation in 2020, said health promotion manager Michael Gorgey.

“We are looking at this as a broad strategy; obviously opioids and the overdose issue is of critical importance,” Gorgey said, pointing to efforts like naloxone distribution and surveillance.

“But it’s not just one thing. Methamphetamines, cannabis, alcohol — all of these substances impact our lives in various ways.

“Today it’s fentanyl, but tomorrow, we don’t know.”

Those taking the survey can help ‘prioritize community activities’ with the goal of reducing demand for drugs and alcohol, creating a more responsible supply, and reducing harms while supporting people in recovery.

Hearing from those with lived experience and their loved ones is crucial, Gorgey added.

“We’ve talked to people who have dependence on drugs, how they interact with the system, and how they feel stigmatized,” he said.

“It has really opened our eyes. So this is another opportunity for people to tell us their stories, because it’s going to be used to inform how we’re going to implement these priorities.”

The survey is open until Nov. 18.

More information is available at shareyourvoice.ca or by calling 519-383-3881.