April 12th, 2024

Webinar brings attention to addictions issues

By Lethbridge Herald on October 24, 2023.

Justin Seward

The Association of Nigerians in Lethbridge, the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association and the Soboyejo Turning Point Foundation for Nigeria’s 63rd National Day Anniversary hosted a web seminar to bring awareness to struggles of addiction and homelessness on Saturday at the Multicultural Centre.

The theme was Addictions & Homelessness Are Not Fun But Human Struggles-Advocacy, Awareness & Action to Save Lives.

This is the fifth seminar series that the Foundation has hosted.

“We talk on global issues, local challenges and the way forward,” Fola Soboyejo, executive director for Soboyejo Turning Point Foundation.

“Rubbing minds, having dialogue to promote understanding and peace.”

The Association of Nigerians host one seminar a year in October to celebrate their National Day anniversary.

“October 1 is Nigeria National Day and then we think it’s part of our contribution to the Nigerian community and the Lethbridge community, which is our host, to have an event like this to bring people together,” said Soboyejo.

Alberta Minister of Mental Health and Addiction Dan Williams was a speaker and spoke about the issue in the province.

“I think it needs to be said off the beginning that what we’ve been doing by-in-large as a society, I’m going to count all of Canada and America in this, what we’ve been doing as a response to the addiction crisis, it hasn’t been working,” said Williams.

“And I’m not throwing stones or blaming any individual group or individual person, not at all. But we have to be able to recognize when a policy isn’t working. When it’s not making things better, are we willing to pivot and move towards a policy that does?”

Williams said what happens then is if there aren’t policies in place that enable recovery, first and foremost, society ends up facilitating an addiction.

“And Alberta has taken a very strong stand on this,” said Williams.

“We’ve been very emphatic in saying we believe deeply in recovery. We believe in there’s a hope  and a life beyond addiction, and we see it all the time with thousands of Albertans running amongst us.”

On top of Williams list is a health care response to addiction.

“Which is why we have invested in hundreds of millions of dollars into recovery centres, into the virtual open dependency program, which is evidence-based opioid therapy as addiction opioid medical treatment that you can get on, and Alberta is the only place in the world that has it. So you can have same-day immediate access to evidence-based treatment when it comes to that.”

Kathy Christiansen of Calgary Alpha House Society spoke about how advocacy and relationship building for those who have experienced homelessness and street-level addiction helps.

“We’ve often talked about our work at the centre as sort of being founded on a relational model,” said Christiansen. “So we build rapport through understanding.”

Alpha House has a detox program with 42 beds, 30 of which are medical detox beds.

“So we’re supporting people who are in Acute withdrawal and probably need some type of medical intervention,” she said.

“And then 12 of those beds are for people that have moved through the phase of Acute withdrawal. But we want to continue to work with them to make sure that they have an opportunity to connect to a  treatment program or a housing program before we discharge them.”

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