Shed­ding light on ad­dic­tion

New book looks at the heart of the opi­oid epi­demic through sto­ries and art

StarMetro Edmonton - - FRONT PAGE - OMAR MOSLEH

To Larry An­der­son, the poppy flower is a dou­ble-edged sword. While on one hand, it rep­re­sents the val­our of fallen sol­diers, it’s also re­spon­si­ble for the an­guish of thou­sands of Ed­mon­to­ni­ans who find them­selves in the grips of an opi­oid ad­dic­tion.

But un­like vet­er­ans who die in war, few re­mem­ber those who lose their lives to drugs, An­der­son says.

“Opi­oids serve a pur­pose. They were cre­ated and de­signed to heal pain. But be­cause they’re so pow­er­ful, they be­come ad­dic­tive,” An­der­son says while re­flect­ing on his poem, “My Poppy,” fea­tured in a new book by the Bis­sell Cen­tre fo­cused on rais­ing aware­ness about the ef­fects of the opi­oid epi­demic on Ed­mon­ton’s in­ner city.

“The peo­ple who are in chronic pain, they didn’t do any­thing to get that way. You can’t blame them for be­ing in pain. So the opi­oids on that side help them. On the other side, they hurt them.”

An­der­son’s poem is fea­turedin Cy­cles & Cir­cles, a com­pi­la­tion of sto­ries, po­etry and art about ad­dic­tion cre­ated by the Bis­sell Cen­tre in col­lab­o­ra­tion with clients, lo­cal artists and au­thors.

In ad­di­tion to rais­ing aware­ness about the opi­oid cri­sis and des­tig­ma­tiz­ing ad­dic­tion, the book puts a strong em­pha­sis on harm re­duc­tion, and in­cludes a re­sources sec­tion pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion on su­per­vised con­sump­tion sites, how to ac­cess and use nalox­one kits, nee­dle ex­change ser­vices, and more.

Kait­lyn Beaton, Bis­sell Cen­tre’s di­rec­tor of com­mu­nity pro­grams, said the or­ga­ni­za­tion saw a need to high­light how the opi­oid cri­sis was af­flict­ing the in­ner city, due in part to the sheer preva­lence of opi­oid over­doses on site. “I would say over the last five or so years, we have seen a real change in the in­ner city around ad­dic­tion with opi­oids … A decade ago, I had barely even heard of fen­tanyl. Now it’s like you can’t go through the day with­out talk­ing about it,” she said.

But in­stead of pre­sent­ing the opi­oid cri­sis in stark num­bers, they aim to present a more com­pas­sion­ate view of ad­dic­tion through sto­ries and art.

“I think the book, to me, re­ally high­lights the hu­man­ness of it,,” Beaton said.

The Bis­sell Cen­tre will be hold­ing a book launch for Cy­cles & Cir­cles at its west build­ing on Jan. 18 from noon to 2 p.m.

“YOU CAN’T BLAME THEM FOR BE­ING IN PAIN.” Larry An­der­son Poet

Read more at thes­tar.com/ed­mon­ton

CODIE MCLACH­LAN/STARMETRO

Larry An­der­son con­trib­uted to the book Cy­cles and Cir­cles, which ex­plores the ef­fects of the opi­oid cri­sis on Ed­mon­ton’s in­ner city.

CODIE MCLACH­LAN/FOR STARMETRO ED­MON­TON

Cy­cles and Cir­cles, a book of sto­ries, po­etry and art cre­ated at the Bis­sell Cen­tre, looks at the ef­fect the opoiod cri­sis has had on Ed­mon­ton’s in­ner city.

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