Shedding light on addiction
New book looks at the heart of the opioid epidemic through stories and art
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
Larry Anderson contributed to the book Cycles and Circles, which explores the effects of the opioid crisis on Edmonton’s inner city.
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.