Steve Arneil (centre) has gathered a group of concerned citizens together to tackle the opioid crisis in Campbell River. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell Riverites banding together to fight fentanyl crisis

A group of concerned citizens has banded together to tackle the fentanyl crisis in Campbell River.

Among the group is former mayor Lynn Nash and Grassroots Kind Hearts founder Krisandra Rufus.

“Basically, it’s a team that’s going to do whatever it can to help with the fentanyl crisis,” said Steve Arneil, the group’s founder. “And priority one is teaching the kids about the dangers.”

The second priority is creating a quicker treatment process. These days it takes weeks, even months to get into a treatment program, Arneil said.

Arneil has assembled a group of people who are intent on finding a solution to all needs of all substance abuse victims. The plan is to have a crisis team that can react within minutes to someone’s cry for help.

The fentanyl overdose crisis is all over the news and is a widespread problem throughout communities in British Columbia, including Campbell River.

Related: Campbell River hit hard by fentanyl crisis; overdose rate twice that of the rest of the Island

The crisis is putting a strain on not only the health system with ambulance and fire departments responding to overdosing users.

It also impacts crime, putting a heavier workload on police, and forces taxes up as municipalities struggle to deal with higher crime rates.

Arneil knows of what he speaks, having struggled with fentanyl addiction for years.

In 2011 he wrote a book about his life and his struggles entitled In the Name of the Moondog. But Arneil said this is not about making himself famous or increasing book sales.

“I don’t need possessions what I need is to help save lives because I have lost so many people to this monster that enough’s enough,” he said.

The situation is getting worse and he wants to prevent more youths from getting hooked. It is a crisis that affects all walks of life – “good families” as well as bad ones.

“If you think your children are safe from drugs, I can’t stress this enough, they are not,” Arneil said.

The committee’s first course of action is circulating a flyer that is soliciting help from the community. In the flyer Arneil says, “I am begging you Campbell River, please come and join our team or find our how you can help. We are all in this together, and together we can do it all.”

For more information or to make contact, visit the group’s website: www.InTheNameOfTheMoondog.com