Moms Stop the Harm turn grief into positive action

Women lead the battle against substance abuse, stigma

Leslie McBain, Lorna Thomas and Petra Schulz are part of a group no one wants to be a part of.

The trio are the founders of Moms Stop the Harm, a network of Canadian families whose loved ones have died from drug related harms or who struggle with substance abuse.

“There’s so much stigma around drug use. We feel like we’re made a dent in people’s thinking — that we’ve helped bring awareness to the fact that drug abuse is not a moral failing. Drug use and drug addiction is a disease,” says McBain, a Pender Island resident. “The more we work on that, the further we’ll get.”

Black Press owner David Black stands with Jennifer Howard from Moms Stop The Harm at the annual Black Press Women in Business gala held at the Parkside Hotel and Spa. (Don Denton/News Staff)

It’s a cause that’s close to McBain’s heart. Her son Jordan died in 2014 when he was just 25 years old, after he overdosed from a lethal combination of prescription drugs. She describes her son as a smart, funny, well-liked kid. He was a thrill seeker, an avid skateboarder and a leader among his peers.

“He was definitely a bright light,” McBain says.

READ MORE: Women in Business

After his death, McBain met Schulz and Thomas, who are both from Edmonton. Schulz’s son Danny died from an accidental fentanyl overdose in 2014. Thomas’ son Alex committed suicide in 2012 after struggling with mental health and substance abuse for some time.

In 2016, the group formed Moms Stop the Harm with the goal of supporting the lives of drug users and advocating for drug policies to support them. In short — their goal was to keep people alive.

However, with the spike in deaths related to the opioid crisis in recent years, the group has ballooned from three families to more than 1,300 across Canada, with new people joining every day.

Now, the group focuses on lobbying for the decriminalization of personal possession of illicit substances, increased harm reduction treatment and supervised consumption sites, as well as the implementation of a safe supply of drugs — all things McBain believes, if implemented, would have saved her son’s life.

In addition to its advocacy work, Moms Stop the Harm has become a support network for families who have lost a loved one or families who have loved ones who are struggling with drug use.

“They’ve turned out to be a huge support for people,” says McBain, noting the group has helped save a number of lives.

For more information about Moms Stop the Harm visit momsstoptheharm.com.

READ MORE: Greater Victoria opioid crisis



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