Crime Stoppers encouraging anonymous tips on illegal opioid distribution in Sudbury
By Canadian Press
By Canadian Press
Aug. 24, 2021 – In an effort to address the growing opioid crisis in Sudbury, the Sudbury Rainbow Crime Stoppers organization has launched a Youth Opioid Awareness (YOA) Campaign.
The aim of the campaign is to prevent crime and promote better individual and community health by raising awareness of the inherent risks, outcomes and impacts of opioid use and addiction among youth.
The YOA campaign is described by Crime Stoppers as “a drug-reduction strategy aimed at empowering people to utilize Crime Stoppers’ safe, 100-per-cent anonymous tipster program to share what they know with local law enforcement, thereby reducing the presence and impact of illicit opioids in our community.”
Crime Stoppers is based on the premise that for every crime committed, someone other than the criminal has information that would help solve the crime and encourages members of the community to provide anonymous information to assist law enforcement agencies in the fight against crime.
Depending on the nature of the crime, tipsters could be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.
Bella Crosier is the Youth Opioid Awareness Campaign Coordinator for the campaign. She outlined some community concerns about opioids in a YouTube video aimed at adolescents.
“Prescription opioids are now one of the most misused substances among Ontario youth,” said Crosier.
She said a survey carried out in 2015 revealed that one in 10 students in Grades 7 to 12 used opioid pain relievers without a prescription. Crosier said that would account for 95,000 young people in Ontario.
She added that the two most common ways to obtain opioids are either through a prescription, since it is used as a treatment for chronic pain, or through illicit means, such as buying from a street dealer. Sometimes, drug users will obtain opioids by stealing the drugs from a legal user who has a medical condition.
Crosier said there are several types of opioids available starting with the base chemical of morphine. But drug users also choose to use oxycodone, heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil, which are drugs that are progressively more potent than morphine.
In the video, Crosier outlines that opioids are so potent that even small amounts are enough to kill an adult. Crosier said one of the key concerns about opioids is that users do not often know what they’re consuming, therefore, it becomes too easy for drug users to overdose.
In the Crime Stoppers video there is an animation segment that explains how opioids work in the body to block out pain by creating a feeling of well being and this is how addiction begins.
As part of the addiction process, the video outlines that many drug users experience changes in their behaviour and personality that might isolate them from close friends and family members.
“It is not uncommon to see opioid users resorting to small crime such as theft to support their addiction,” Crosier said in the video.
Crosier said that many drug users can still function while they are using drugs, but many drug users cannot function if they are struggling with the debilitating physical effects of withdrawal.
The video also outlines the history of opioids that began thousands of years ago with the cultivation of opium poppies in western Asia. In more recent times, in the 1990s, more refined and highly addictive medicines were manufactured as pharmaceutical products.
Crosier said despite the impression that the opioid crisis is a problem affecting only major cities, it is not. Crosier said the opioid overdose rate and corresponding per-capita death rate in Northern Ontario is higher than many other parts of Canada.
“On top of this, Sudbury’s opioid problem is especially bad. Currently our opioid mortality rate is about three times higher than the national average,” said Crosier.
The video references Sudbury’s white cross memorial located on a small parcel of land on Paris Street, near Brady Street.
More than 100 crosses represent the unusually high number of local individuals who have died from opioid overdoses. Crosier said it is a sad reminder of how tragic the situation has become in Sudbury.
Crozier said an overdose can happen in a matter of minutes. She also mentioned that Naloxone kits, which can reverse the overdose process, are available for free in Ontario.
Speaking to the concept of Crime Stoppers, the video said if you find out that a person you know is distributing drugs to a lot of people, you should be aware that this is unlawful behaviour, and that it could kill people.
“It is also very dangerous and could possibly lead to the deaths of many people,” said Crozier. She said calling the police or Crime Stoppers will likely result in putting the dealer out of business.
Crime Stoppers said as part of the campaign, Crosier is available as a speaker who can provide a presentation to local groups and organizations on request.
Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com. He covers health care in Northern Ontario.