Addiction isn’t 9-5

As you may already know, I am fighting hard (with many amazing people) to tackle the opioid crisis in Barrie. I have had the privilege to work alongside many talented and dedicated doctors and specialists. I have sat at boardroom tables and asked questions…and even more questions. I want the answers to this crisis so bad, and I know that it will take an army of people to solve it. And members of this army include people with lived experience with addiction. I don’t see many of these people when I am in boardrooms, and I think that THIS is a critical missing piece to the crisis puzzle.

One day, while sitting at said boardroom table with doctors and specialists, I asked why the Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinics are only open two hours…that’s correct, I said TWO hours a day for drop in? And only 9-5 for appointments. You see, I am one of those lived experience individuals. I am a recovered addict and I can tell you with 100 % certainty that my addiction isn’t with me for two hours a day. This huge gap in this service needs to be addressed! My addiction is ever present in my blood. It tries to fool me into drinking and abusing my drugs again. It still tells me that I’m worthless and that people would be better off without me (sidebar – I’m safe, don’t worry!) My addiction is conniving and sneaky and as they say at my 12 step meetings, it’s doing push-ups while I stay sober, just waiting to hit me hard one day.

Hearing that the RAAM clinic was only open for two hours a day broke my heart. Some people don’t have a car and it would take them two hours just to get there by bus! I am told that the hours are so low because they don’t have enough staff to operate it – well I say let’s find some. Addiction is 24/7, and available care should be too.

Are you a mental health and/or addiction specialist who lives in the Barrie area? Email me! Natalie.Harris@barrie.ca

I can’t promise anything except that I will submit your name and resume to the RAAM. Thank you!