An Edmonton woman whose son died of a fentanyl overdose, has taken the loss of a child and put it towards helping others avoid her pain.
Petra Schulz helped to establish Moms Stop the Harm, a network of Canadian families who have lost a loved one to drug misuse that advocates for drug policy reforms.
Schulz says while stopping the supply of drugs is very important, she wants the focus to move to the demand.
“Rather than focusing on reducing the supply we should focus on reducing the demand, really really helping people who are struggling with mental health and addiction and I think that’s where our emphasis should be.”
She says the government needs to focus on more harm reduction tactics, like a needle exchange, supervised injection services, and replacement services like methadone, she says those are three examples of harm reduction that are fairly inexpensive and aren’t done enough.
Schulz believes that Alberta Health Services needs to declare a public health emergency.
“Officials with Alberta Health would disagree they have publicly stated at the Overdose awareness day, Dr. Karen Grimsrud doesn’t think it’s necessary, but I think it’s totally necessary because A) it will give us real time numbers, real numbers of all the problems not just Fentanyl, and it will also allow us more rapidly to deploy resources where they’re needed.”
She says their network wants more money invested in harm reduction, supervised injection sites, and opioid replacement products readily available.
“Methadone and Suboxone are the two drugs typically used, readily available. Right now people go into detox and then they have to wait months in some cases, days in the ideal cases but any wait after detox before you get into a treatment program is a real danger because a person’s tolerance is lower, they relapse, a huge danger of overdose.”
Schulz says they also want to get 911 legislation, as right now people might be taking longer to call for help when someone overdoses to clean up the drugs, because they could get arrested for possession.
She says, while the network is not only advocating for drug policy reforms, it’s also essential to help those in it deal with their losses.
“It’s not only essential for bringing about change and for learning but also for this emotional support, what we do is really draining. Several of us spoke at Overdose Awareness day on Wednesday on August 31st, and you know you stand up there you speak about your child you hope things will change but at the end of the day when you go home, he won’t.”
Schulz, whose son Danny overdosed in 2014, believes not enough is being done for harm reduction and more funding should be put towards it.