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Algoma Public Health holds public forum on addiction crisis at Sault film festival


Public health officials, addictions advocates and recovering addicts say more resources and more dialogue are needed to address the ongoing opioid overdose crisis in northern Ontario. The issue of addiction was the topic of a panel discussion at the Shadows of the Mind Film Festival in Sault Ste. Marie.

A screening of the documentary Love in the Time of Fentanyl opened the discussion, which was facilitated by Algoma Public Health (APH). The film is set in Vancouver's downtown eastside neighbourhood, considered by many to be ‘ground zero’ of the overdose crisis.

One of the panelists, Amy Lebreton, is a recovering addict. She found the film difficult to watch.

"It's triggering for me because it reminds me of situations that I've actually been in," she said.

"I've lost a lot of people. So, it's difficult. It brings all those memories back."

The panel discussion was moderated by Algoma's Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. John Tuinema, who said the opioid crisis is still claiming lives at a disproportionate rate in Algoma. Panelists pointed to inadequate resources, long wait-times for treatment and stigma as major obstacles in the struggle with addiction.

"The stigma in our city is horrible," said Connie Raynor-Elliott, founder of the group Save Our Young Adults (SOYA).

"There's a lot of judgement."

Lebreton, however, said the discussion about addiction and its causes must continue.

"We definitely do have a little bit longer to go," she said.

"I'm just glad things like this are starting to happen, because the biggest thing that we need is open conversation, lose the stigma." Top Stories

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