Opioids Don’t
Red Deer

An Interactive Experience | May 27 – May 30 2019

Join Us from May 27 to May 30, 2019

About this event 

Opioid use has reached a crisis state. Thousands of lives have been altered, including mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members. Nobody is immune, no matter our age, race, gender, education or income.
From May 27 to May 30, 2019, we hosted “Opioids don’t discriminate: An interactive experience,” at RDC in Red Deer. This concept was originally created by the Community Drug Strategy Committee in Strathcona County.

The event immersed participants in the journeys of fictional characters, Natasha, David and Max, based on the real-life experiences of people affected by opioid use. Each journey is unique and addressed pervasive stigmas and judgments about people who use opioids while strengthening empathy and understanding about substance use. Through interactive elements, participants learned about the science of addiction, the impact of opioids and how the crisis is affecting us.

Challenge what you think you know.

Walk in Natasha, David and Max’s shoes to explore this interactive exhibit.

Meet Max

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Max is smart and reliable. He loves reading, math, sports and his cat. He loves to draw and paint buildings and cityscapes, and works hard at school so he can apply for post-secondary scholarships to study architecture.

Max has grown up in the same town with the same friends, but his parents are separating so he and his mom and brother are moving to a new city to be near his grandma. She just had hip surgery so she needs a lot of help so Max is trying to help out as best he can. Moving and his parents splitting has been really hard. And even though his dad travels a lot, Max misses him.

Max doesn’t want to make new friends. He had friends. He had a life. But his parents seem so much happier, and even Robbie likes his new school, so Max is trying not to complain too much. He just feels alone, and he is so uncomfortable at school. The people are different, the classes are different, and he only knows his family. Max feels anxious more and more every day, trying to fit in, keep his grades up, help out with grandma and Robbie… When he’s invited to a party, he’s hopeful he will finally make some new friends and feel like he belongs.

Meet David

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David is an account manager and has been working his way towards a promotion for the last couple of years. He has two younger children and is happily married. His kids’ activities keep him and his wife busy after work, and when he isn’t cheering them on, he plays beer league hockey and goes to movies with his wife.

He was recently injured at one of his games, and he is struggling with the pain. The hospital gave him medication, but he still can’t go back to work, and on bad days, he can hardly get out of bed. He tries to cook and help at home, but it’s difficult and painful. Getting to appointments and even to his kids’ activities is a huge struggle, and he’s becoming more and more frustrated. It seems like nobody actually understands how much he hurts and how much his injury is impacting his life. Work and bills are piling up, he’s missing out on his kids’ lives and he hasn’t been on a date with his wife in ages. He just wants to get back to normal and feel better. It shouldn’t be this hard.

Meet Natasha

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Natasha is separating from her husband and her mom is recovering from hip surgery, so Natasha accepted a transfer for her job so she and her sons, 16-year-old Max and 8-year-old Robbie, can be closer to the family. While the move takes them away from the only home her boys have known, Natasha knows how much they love their grandma and is hopeful they’ll feel supported and grounded in family life. Both Max and Robbie have always had large social circles and like to be active, so Natasha is confident they’ll adjust quickly.

Max is smart, reliable and loves school. While he missed team tryouts, he’s making new friends and he’s been a huge help driving Robbie to school, helping out at home and even taking food to his grandma and spending time with her. There have been many long days as Natasha transitions to her new job, takes her mom to appointments, helps her around the house and with meals, and helps the boys settle in, but it seems like they’re adjusting, and she hopes she made the right choice for them all.

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Opioids Don’t Discriminate FAQs

1. What is the purpose of this event?

This interactive event aims to reduce stigma, judgments and biases about people who use opioids, and those affected by opioid drug use. The event aims to create a better understanding about opioid drug use, local available support and what people can do if they or someone they know is using opioids.

Opioid use is a global crisis, and is impacting Central Alberta residents, no matter their race, age, income, education or background. People from all walks of life are affected. Research indicates stigma as one of the main reasons people avoid treatment and support. Together with our partners, we are working to break the stigma, by providing information about opioid use, addressing the judgments about people who use drugs, and providing a safe, supportive environment for people to seek help.

2. What is an interactive experience?

We created three different characters, David, Max, Natasha, and Pamela based on real-life experiences of people who have been negatively impacted by opioid use. You will be able to choose a character and walk through their journey as that character. There will be information to read, listen to, and physically touch and interact with to gain a better understanding of what each character is thinking and feeling.

3. How long does it take to walk through the event?
Each character journey can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes, depending on how much time you want to spend at each station. If you want to walk through each character journey, you can expect the experience to take 30-60 minutes.
4. Is there sensitive content?
We have based content on the real-life experiences of people in our community. Information about opioid use, misuse or overdose may be upsetting for some people. There will be counsellors available availible if participants are impacted by the exhibit.
5. Is this appropriate for kids?
This exhibit has been designed for youth starting junior high and younger children are welcome to attend with a responsible adult.
6. I want to learn more about what Red Deer is doing to address the opioid crisis. Where can I get more information?

You can learn more about the opioid crisis online or read the community drug strategy.

Take a Sneak Peek of the interactive exhibition 

This exhibition has been developed by Strathcona County and first launched in November 2018.