"Too many losses": Area First Nation uses new tools to fight opioid addiction

Chief Jason Henry has - first hand - witnessed the loss of community members to the opioid crisis.

He has also offered a shoulder to his children when they’ve lost friends.

“My oldest son has physically lost a friend to addiction already. And many of his peers are stuck in addiction.”

As in many communities, the crisis here has become an urgent situation. It’s impacting multiple generations.

“Really the residential school…That’s what’s playing out today. Those inter-generational traumas are what’s causing this.”

So, Chief Henry and others have decided to take action.

Many of the measures are immediate, including a pop-up drop-in centre.

It is located in front of a former senior’s centre across from the communities car wash.

Henry says each Wednesday at 1 p.m. addiction battling supplies and advice are offered.

This week alone 50 naloxone kits were distributed.

“Those weren’t not just given to those struggling with addictions. They were given family members and community members and others that stopped by. And they were trained on how to deploy naloxone.”

But, the new initiative is not the only one being rolled out or formulated.

Henry met Thursday with Forest Pharmacist Al Ladak.

Before COVID-19, Ladak frequently distributed methadone to those struggling with opioids from Kettle and Stony Point.

But transportation to his Forest Pharmacy ended, leaving his patients struggling to find a ride.

Ladak and Henry want to see funded transportation resume or, better yet, a methadone dispensary created on the First Nation.

“It would make it easier for people to access the services than to getting to the pharmacy and looking for transportation,” Ladak tells CTV News London.

Down the road, Henry says early 2022 has been set as a goal to restart a traditional healing lodge.

The Southwest Regional Healing Lodge was in place at Muncey-Delaware until 2018.

Henry says it’s crucial it restarts - somewhere - to help counter the crisis.

“What we are asking for in the community is every tool in the toolbox. Everything we can possibly do to help effect change when it comes to the opioid crisis.”