Report on the Opioid Crisis

The Central City Foundation released a report this week on the toll of the opioid epidemic on front-line workers in Vancouver. As Mebrat Beyene from the Wish Drop in Centre, noted that

“Our staff are doing the real frontline work every single day. They are there before the first  responders, and they are there after the first responders leave, and we are supposed to be  doing this for a fraction of what they have.”

The Central City Foundation report, based on interviews at 21 non-profits, indicated that the crisis is having a detrimental effect on their agencies, staff and clients. On top of their regular jobs, staff cope with the direct impacts of the opioid epidemic. They must contend with their grief while they support their clients through the loss of human life in their community.

At our conference in November, Donald Macpherson from the Canadian Drug Coalition and Vikki Reynolds, a counsellor, facilitator and educator, addressed the opioid epidemic. MacPherson states that the current crisis is “a catastrophic failure in public policy.” He believes many of these deaths are preventable pointing out the there hasn’t been one death in a supervised injection site. Reynolds argues that burnout is a result of dealing with injustices day after day.

The call to action from the report is that “[w]e must do more to help front-line organizations strengthen their capacity and continue their critical work to support  our neighbours in the inner city and beyond.” The opioid epidemic is showing no signs of going away anytime soon. We need to recognize what is happening and how it is affecting the staff in our community-based agencies.

Other Resources – from Vikki Reynolds

Richardson, C., & Reynolds, V. (2012). “Here we are amazingly alive”: Holding ourselves together with an ethic of social justice in community work.” International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies 1:1-19.

Reynolds, V. (2011). Resisting burnout with justice-doing. The International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work. (4) 27-45.

Reynolds, V. (2009). Collective ethics as a path to resisting burnout.  Insights: The Clinical Counsellor’s Magazine & News., December 2009, 6-7.