It's National Addictions Awareness Week, and Strathmore Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) is holding a community conversation on November 24 to raise awareness and educate people.

At 6:30 PM at the Strathmore Motor Products Sports Centre, Strathmore FCSS is inviting all community members to listen, learn, and share their own perspectives on substance use in the community.Several experts will be there as well, including pharmacist Josh Poteet from Mint Pharmacy to provide information and training on Naloxone, Trevor Pelletier from Siksika Addictions Services, and counsellor Joni Elliot.

Kiana Pollom-Smith with Strathmore FCSS said this is just one of many things the Strathmore Wheatland Addictions Team (SWAT) does to support the community by raising awareness and education.

"Currently, our magnet signs feature information on substance use to spark conversation among community members to reduce stigma and bring awareness. We also provide training to the community on Naloxone, harm reduction, and substance use while also bringing awareness to campaigns and events such as National Overdose Awareness Day, the Purple Chair Campaign, and more," she said in a written response.

Pollom-Smith explained events like this are some of the best ways for the community to be supportive of those struggling with addiction. 

"The biggest need in our community right now is for general awareness on substance use and addictions to help combat the stigma around addictions and mental health. The more education the community has around addictions means less stigma, which results in it being easier for individuals to get help and a more resilient community."

While simply going to the community conversation is a great way to do your part in creating a supportive community, Pollom-Smith said SWAT is always happy to welcome new volunteers for anyone who would like to be more involved. She said volunteer opportunities include:

  • Youth Representatives – SWAT is seeking youth representatives to bring new perspectives and ideas to the table around how we can better support Strathmore’s youth population. SWAT meets once a month and can accommodate a student’s schedule.
  • Community Member Representatives – We are always looking for new community members to join our team, if you are interested in learning more about SWAT, sharing your ideas, taking on new initiatives, and more, please contact us for more information

This community conversation event was also held last year, which Pollom-Smith says was a great success. She added she's hoping many people come to this year's event and is looking forward to "engaging the community in necessary conversation regarding substance abuse."

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