Diversity in Drug Use

In accordance with our commitment to raising awareness about the opioid crisis and reducing stigma around drug use, this free virtual panel event featured four volunteer speakers who shared their experiences working with marginalized communities specializing in opioid use and/or addictions medicine. We learned about why these individuals are often disproportionately affected by the opioid crisis, the specific barriers to safe drug use/access to support services for community members, and how to adapt harm reduction techniques for these unique communities. Starting off with a general overview of the opioid crisis and barriers to treatment, speaker Dr. Vidushi Mittra Melrose, a family physician at the AHS Opioid Dependency Program located downtown Edmonton, with a special interest in youth and addictions began the presentation. Followed by Jyoti Palak, a community pharmacist at Millcreek Medi-Drugs specializing in the 2SLGBTQ+ who discussed addiction, mental health, and barriers to treatment within the community. Then Dr. Pamela Kaduri, an addiction psychiatrist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto with experience working in substance use/mental health in African and Canadian communities spoke about the unique obstacles that the community faces regularly when accessing health services. Finally, Dr. Sajida Afridi, a public health preventative medicine and addiction medicine specialist with experience in Southern Alberta including Indigenous peoples such as First Nations Blood Tribe and inner-city Edmonton, concluded the virtual panel.

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