Chatham outreach program set to break down opioid use stereotypes

ROCK Missions aims to raise awareness of the impact of local opioid use through documentary screenings that provide insight into the harsh realities of Canada’s opioid crisis.

Local outreach program has partnered with Chatham-Kent Drug Awareness Council to share screening love in the age of fentanyl Thursday, April 20, inside Studio One at the Chatham Cultural Center.

Renee Geniole, operations coordinator for ROCK Missions, said that while the event aims to draw attention to the impact of the opioid crisis, it will also kick-start ROCK’s Peer-2-Peer program.

“The opioid crisis isn’t just in big cities. It’s everywhere, right here in Chatham-Kent,” Geniole said. “We lost people we (ROCK Missions) supported because of opioid poisoning. Fentanyl is a real problem and we want to do what we can to save people.”

The recently expanded peer program supports people experiencing homelessness or substance use issues. It operates out of Chatham on a weekly basis, providing people with low-barrier access to information, hazard reduction supplies, community outreach and support.

“Our intent is to try and bring naloxone and educational work to market,” Geniole said. “It’s in our community, and it’s affecting a lot of the people we serve.”

Chatham-Kent County saw a 280 percent increase in opioid-related emergency room visits and a 400 percent increase in opioid-related deaths between 2016 and 2020, according to data in a previous report.

The region saw the largest increase in opioid-related incidents during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

“Many of the people we serve are using fentanyl,” Geniole said. “Stopping substances is not as easy as quitting smoking. Many people need more support to move forward.”

This upcoming documentary goes beyond the stigma of being a drug user to reveal the reality for people in a Vancouver neighborhood often referred to as “ground zero” of Canada’s drug overdose crisis.

“The reality is that there are people in our community who need our support and services,” Geniole said. “Our community needs to support them and be with them because each person in our community is as important as the next person.”

Event tickets can be purchased here.

Anyone interested in learning more about ROCK Missions and the services available can do so via Click here.

WARNING: This video contains very graphic images which may trigger some people.

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