On Monday March 19, Laurier hosted the Substance Abuse Health Fair in the RCW lobby. The event focused on harm reduction, anti-stigma, mental health and substance abuse.
Melisa Trojanovic and April Dremak, two Laurier students, organized and hosted the fair. “I first became involved with the training during a Community Development course April and I have taken this semester. The course allowed us to create a project and watch it come to fruition through the help of Brantford City staff and a CityStudio partnership. City Studio is a program put in place to allow students the opportunity to take the theory they have learned during their studies and put it to use through real world application. These sessions became part of our project since Naloxone is a harm reduction initiative and our health fair focused on Substance use and abuse, mental health and addictions, harm reduction, and anti stigma,” said Trojanovic.
The fair was also attended by local Brantford organizations focused on health and substance use. The list included the Aboriginal Health Centre, the Towards Recovery Treatment Centre, Safe Brantford, St. Leonard’s Community Services, the Colborne Street Clinic, Helping Ourselves through Peer Support & Employment (H.O.P.E.), the YMCA, and the Brant Community Healthcare System.
The fair also allowed students the opportunity to sign up for free Naloxone training. “The training sessions will consist of representatives from the Brant County Health Unit training students on how to use the Naloxone nasal spray safely. They will also be going over the DO’s and DONT’s regarding an overdose and how to determine what an overdose looks like, and how to respond to something you don’t entirely know is an overdose or not,” said Trojanovic.
Naloxone is a drug that works to quickly reverse the effects of opioid overdose, helping to restore regular breathing in a victim who’s breathing has either dangerously slowed down, or stopped altogether. According to a report released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, CIHI, Brantford has the highest rate of opioid-related emergency room visits in Ontario.
Trojanovic states, “The significance of substance use in Brantford is very important to understand because of the nature of Brantfords community, with things like mental health and addictions being a very well established issue that has been brought to the forefront even more so now with the fentanyl epidemic.”
“Students have a great opportunity to educate themselves now more than ever on the effects of various substances and how it can be detrimental to a community, as we have one right outside our front door that could benefit from education regarding the services the community has to offer.”