Connect with us


Alberta harm reduction advocate, drug user challenges government focus on abstinence – Niagara Falls Review



CALGARY – It was in a hospital that a Calgary woman says she recalls feeling happy for the very first time as an opioid raced through her body.

“When they gave me that IV of hydromorphone, all of the horrible things that I was feeling just went quiet,” says Ophelia Cara, 21.

“I felt like I could breathe again for the first time in a long time and, in some sense, for the first time ever.”

Being introduced to hydromorphone, sold under the brand name Dilaudid, would change everything for her.

While stories of opioid use are often tragic — with thousands of attributable deathsin Canada in recent years — Cara says using them has saved her life.

Cara doesn’t go by her given name for fear it could threaten her prescription, as tensions rise in Alberta about how to respond to the overdose crisis.

As the provincial government focuses on a recovery-based approach, while cutting harm reduction services, Cara has become a well-known advocate in Calgary for services that support people who use drugs.

Not only is she fighting to save the city’s drug-use site from closing, but she’s highlighting that abstinence doesn’t work for everyone.

“I tried everything I could to stay sober. None of it worked,” says Cara. “I am still very much an addict but I’m also more recovered and more mentally healthy now than I’ve ever been.”

Sipping tea on a couch in her home in southwest Calgary, Cara details a lonely childhood where she often chose the comfort of a school book instead of making friends.

From an early age, she faced significant mental health issues like depression that continued into adulthood. Cara says her life hit an all-time low during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her job in a nightclub was put on hold and her relationship with a man she loved was rocky. An unrelated sexual assault landed her in the hospital in the summer of 2020, and that’s when she received the hydromorphone drip.

After that visit, she turned to street drugs — cocaine and fentanyl. She suffered numerous overdoses, one of which resulted in a massive seizure that Cara says left her unconscious for an hour.

Her dad tried to force her into sobriety, taking her to a small town in Mexico.It didn’t work. She overdosed almost immediately after returning to Canada.

“I don’t recommend drug use to anyone,” says Cara, speaking specifically of street drugs.It marked her life, she says, with hospital visits, toxic relationships, unbearable pain and severed ties to family and friends.

It was at Calgary’s drug-use site where staff helped her realize there was an option to be “safer with drug use without getting sober,” and she started doing research.

There are opioid agonist treatment programs in Alberta where powerful opioid medications, like methadone and suboxone, are prescribed to treat substance use disorder. Safe supply programs, which offer prescription alternatives to street drugs, are also becoming known across Canada.

Cara says she was rejected by multiple doctors before finding one that would prescribe her Dilaudid.

In addition to therapy, she says the prescription drug helps with her mental and physical health. It provides her stability so she can study and work while leaning into her passions, like cross-stitch and advocacy.

“Generally, the reason that we say that people need to get sober is because there’s this idea that someone who’s using drugs can’t live a balanced life … that all they care about is getting high,” says Cara.

“But I am more productive now than I was when I was sober, because now I’m actually stable. I’m no longer in survival mode.”

She carries a drug kit that houses naloxone, sterile equipment, vitamin E oil for her skin and contact cards for local agencies, among other supplies to support safer drug use. A pin attached to its mesh interior reads “can’t recover if you’re dead.”

While abstinence may work for some people, says Kinnon Ross, an Edmonton-based harm reduction nurse, recovery should instead be viewed as any step that improves someone’s quality of life.

“If it means having a less chaotic outcome from your drug use then that’s a step into recovery,” says Ross.

In some ways, Cara is still like her younger self and can often be found with her head in a book. She plans to get a doctorate in chemistry and pharmacology to dive into how drug use can be made safer.

Cara says she chose the name Ophelia after reading William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, where a young noblewoman by that name dies by suicide after being dealt many wrongs by men in her life.

“I wanted to give her a better ending than the one she chose for herself.“

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2022.

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Rare Cases of Monkeypox Diagnosed in Britain | Health | – The Suburban Newspaper



TUESDAY, May 17, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Four men in England have been infected with a “rare and unusual” monkeypox virus.

Investigators from the U.K. Health Security Agency are investigating the cases and whether there is any connection between the men, according to the Associated Press. None of the individuals had traveled to the African countries where the virus is endemic. Three of the men are in London, and one is in Northeast England.

Three earlier cases were announced last week. In those cases, two of the patients lived in the same household. The third person had previously traveled to Nigeria, one of the countries where the virus is endemic in animals. Most people who get monkeypox recover quickly, within several weeks. The virus has symptoms that include fever, muscle ache, chills, and fatigue. A rash similar to that found in chickenpox and smallpox can form on the face and genitals in more severe cases.

The latest four cases all happen to be in men who identify as gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men. However, monkeypox does not easily spread between people, and it is not known to be transmitted sexually. In Western and Central Africa, the virus is typically spread by touching or being bitten by an infected wild animal. However, it could be spread among people with extremely close contact, the British health officials said.

“The evidence suggests that there may be transmission of the monkeypox virus in the community, spread by close contact,” said Susan Hopkins, M.D., chief medical advisor for the U.K. Health Security Agency, the AP reported. “We are particularly urging men who are gay or bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay.”

Public health officials consider the risk to the general population to be low. They are working with hospitals and international partners to determine if there is a similar rise in cases in other places. This includes tracing people who had contacts with the monkeypox cases, including airline passengers, the AP said. Doctors who see patients with unexplained rashes should seek advice from a specialist, public health officials said.

Associated Press Article

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Long COVID: Half of patients hospitalised have at least one symptom two years on – Australian Hospital + Healthcare Bulletin



Long COVID: Half of patients hospitalised have at least one symptom two years on

Two years on, half of a group of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, still have at least one lingering symptom, according to a study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. The study followed 1192 participants in Wuhan infected with SARS-CoV-2 during the first phase of the pandemic in 2020.

While physical and mental health generally improved over time, the study found that COVID-19 patients still tend to have poorer health and quality of life than the general population. This is especially the case for participants with long COVID, who typically still have at least one symptom including fatigue, shortness of breath and sleep difficulties two years after initially falling ill.1

The long-term health impacts of COVID-19 have remained largely unknown, as the longest follow-up studies to date have spanned around one year.2 The lack of pre-COVID-19 health status baselines and comparisons with the general population in most studies has also made it difficult to determine how well patients with COVID-19 have recovered.

Lead author Professor Bin Cao, of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, China, said, “Our findings indicate that for a certain proportion of hospitalised COVID-19 survivors, while they may have cleared the initial infection, more than two years is needed to recover fully from COVID-19. Ongoing follow-up of COVID-19 survivors, particularly those with symptoms of long COVID, is essential to understand the longer course of the illness, as is further exploration of the benefits of rehabilitation programs for recovery. There is a clear need to provide continued support to a significant proportion of people who’ve had COVID-19, and to understand how vaccines, emerging treatments and variants affect long-term health outcomes.”3

The authors of the new study sought to analyse the long-term health outcomes of hospitalised COVID-19 survivors, as well as specific health impacts of long COVID. They evaluated the health of 1192 participants with acute COVID-19 treated at Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan, China, between 7 January and 29 May 2020, at six months, 12 months and two years.

Assessments involved a six-minute walking test, laboratory tests and questionnaires on symptoms, mental health, health-related quality of life, if they had returned to work and healthcare use after discharge. The negative effects of long COVID on quality of life, exercise capacity, mental health and healthcare use were determined by comparing participants with and without long COVID symptoms. Health outcomes at two years were determined using an age-, sex- and comorbidities-matched control group of people in the general population with no history of COVID-19 infection.

Two years after initially falling ill, patients with COVID-19 are generally in poorer health than the general population, with 31% reporting fatigue or muscle weakness and 31% reporting sleep difficulties. The proportion of non-COVID-19 participants reporting these symptoms was 5% and 14%, respectively.

COVID-19 patients were also more likely to report a number of other symptoms including joint pain, palpitations, dizziness and headaches. In quality of life questionnaires, COVID-19 patients also more often reported pain or discomfort (23%) and anxiety or depression (12%) than non-COVID-19 participants (5% and 5%, respectively).

Around half of study participants had symptoms of long COVID at two years, and reported lower quality of life than those without long COVID. In mental health questionnaires, 35% reported pain or discomfort and 19% reported anxiety or depression. The proportion of COVID-19 patients without long COVID reporting these symptoms was 10% and 4% at two years, respectively. Long COVID participants also more often reported problems with their mobility (5%) or activity levels (4%) than those without long COVID (1% and 2%, respectively).

The authors acknowledged limitations to their study, such as moderate response rate; slightly increased proportion of participants who received oxygen; it was a single centre study from early in the pandemic.


1. – National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network – Royal College of General Practitioners. COVID-19 rapid guideline: managing the long-term effects of COVID-19.
2. – Soriano – JB Murthy – S Marshall – JC Relan – P Diaz JV – on behalf of the WHO Clinical Case Definition Working Group on Post-COVID-19 Condition. A clinical case definition of post-COVID-19 condition by a Delphi consensus. Lancet Infect Dis. 2021; 22: e102-e107
3. – Huang L – Yao Q – Gu X – et al. 1-year outcomes in hospital survivors with COVID-19: a longitudinal cohort study. Lancet. 2021; 398: 747-758

Image credit: © drop

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


2SLGBTQ+ lobby group head speaks on the trauma of conversion therapy



Although conversion therapy has now been outlawed in Canada, many are still victims causing them to go through a lot of trauma in the process.

According to Jordan Sullivan, Project Coordinator of Conversion Therapy Survivors Support and Survivors of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression Change Efforts (SOGIECE), survivors of conversion therapy identify the need for a variety of supports including education and increased awareness about SOGIECE and conversion practices.

Also needed is access to affirming therapists experienced with SOGIECE, trauma (including religious trauma), safe spaces and networks, and access to affirming healthcare practitioners who are aware of conversion therapy or SOGIECE and equipped to support survivors.

“In January of 2021 when I was asked to be the project coordinator, I was hesitant because I wasn’t sure that my experience could be classified as SOGIECE or conversion therapy. I never attended a formalized conversion therapy program or camp run by a religious organization. Healthcare practitioners misdiagnosed me or refused me access to care.

In reality, I spent 27 years internalizing conversion therapy practices through prayer, the study of religious texts, disassociation from my body, and suppression or denial of my sexual and gender identities. I spent six years in counselling and change attempts using conversion therapy practices. I came out as a lesbian at age 33, and as a Trans man at age 51. I am now 61 and Queerly Heterosexual, but I spent decades of my life hiding in shame and fear and struggled with suicidal ideation until my mid-30s.

At times I wanted to crawl away and hide, be distracted by anything that silenced the emptiness, the pain, the wounds deep inside. I realized that in some ways, I am still more comfortable in shame, silence, and disassociation, than in any other way of being and living, but I was also filled with wonderment at the resiliency and courage of every single one of the participants.

However, many of us did not survive, choosing to end the pain and shame through suicide. Many of us are still victims in one way or another, still silenced by the shame, still afraid of being seen as we are. Still, many of us are survivors, and while it has not been an easy road, many of us are thrivers too,” said Jordan.

In addition, Jordan said conversion practices and programs are not easily defined or identified, and often capture only a fragment of pressures and messages that could be considered SOGIECE.

Continue Reading