GUEST COLUMN: Opiods alarming, but alcohol still most dangerous drug

Michael Eshkibok

It was really interesting attending the International Overdose Awareness Day gathering at the Sarnia’s City Hall on Aug. 29, an event designed to give the public some insight into what drugs and alcohol can do to people.

Michael Eshkibok

Several impressive speakers spoke about what drug overdoses have done to people they once cared about. It was a heartbreaking and emotional time.

Indigenous elder Roy Sugarhead led the evening with a song and his drum, while Derrick Bressette ended it by having everyone throw a white rose into the St Clair River, as a symbol of those who lost their lives to drugs and alcohol.

In the Indigenous culture, the purpose of the drum is to reach the Creator and the spirit realm.

The evening was organized by a committee with input from the North Lambton Community Health Centre, Lambton Public Health and Bluewater Health, and coincided with similar events around the world.

The widespread pervasiveness of crystal methamphetamine, or crystal meth, is an insidious problem in Sarnia and is ravaging people everywhere.

Fentanyl was designed to help people with terminal cancer and chronic pain. It’s a highly addictive drug that’s 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, and combining it with other drugs increases the risk of accidental overdose.

The opiod triggers a receptor in the brain and users can risk their life each time it’s used. During an opiod overdose, the brain shuts down the central nervous system, the heart stops, and then the breathing.

A newer and even more dangerous drug is carfentanil. It was not designed for humans and is so powerful veterinarians use it to tranquilize elephants.

Although opioids are getting a lot of attention in the media these days we mustn’t underestimate what a better-known drug can do to people. It’s call alcohol.

Sarnia Police say the vast majority of the calls they receive are somehow related to alcohol.

Alcohol is a known carcinogen that kills 10 times more people each year than all illegal drugs put together.

Michael Eshkibok is the Addictions Navigator at the Sarnia Native Friendship Centre.