Battling against addiction

District of Mission to host drug forum in new year, parents and services groups urged to attend.

Mission wants to take a leadership role in the fight against addiction, and the first battleground is education.

The District of Mission will host a forum on the treatment of addictions in the new year, which will include all models of treatment, including harm reduction, needle exchange, abstinence and more.

The all-day event is scheduled for Feb. 4 and will take place at the Clarke Theatre. The city has budgeted $5,500 to host the forum, and will partner with the Mission school district to present the event.

“Part of that forum is going to provide an education piece for parents on what to look for with their children,” explained Coun. Carol Hamilton at a recent council meeting.

She said parents often say they had no idea, or there were no signs, that their child was experimenting with drugs.

“I can tell you from my own experience, when you don’t recognize the signs, it can lead to problems with your kids,” said Mayor Randy Hawes.

“Addiction visited my home,” he said.

Hawes’ son battled an addiction problem, but has now recovered. Hawes said his son will be in recovery for his whole life.

“Now I do know what to look for. I do know what the signs are. I do know what to do and I just wish all parents did.”

He feels all parents should attend the three-part forum.

The morning session will be for service providers, examining what opportunities exist and what is new and innovative, as well as identifying gaps and service challenges and exploring partnership opportunities.

The afternoon session will be held for mayor and council members, to explore promising community initiatives and continuing challenges.

The evening portion is for parents and includes addiction prevention, warning signs and how to access services.

While Fraser Health will play a big role in the event, Hawes doesn’t want it to “dominate” the discussions. He wants to ensure the event “actually focuses on all of the facets of drug recovery and treatment. What works for one doesn’t work for others.”

A full array of recovery methods should be available.

While this is the only forum being planned at present, Hawes said if it is successful, more could be held.

“I think we have a problem that we have to come to grips with as a community,” said Hawes.

For updates on the addiction forum, visit mission.ca.