Community Dialogue on Opioid Use

Reprinted from Community Dialogues on Opioid Use, UViC

Opioid overdose deaths in British Columbia have led to the declaration of a public health emergency. But different people hold different views about how to address the emergency in our communities. No one has all the answers. Even the best efforts of recognized experts have not solved the crisis or reduced the overdoses. Now is a good time to begin having honest and open community dialogues about drugs and drug policy. 

Dialogue to address the opioid crisis is far more than talking about drugs. Since addiction is not simply about drugs but results from a breakdown in the fabric or connectedness of human community, the dialogue needs to help us understand each other and build social relationships that support individual needs, preferences and autonomy. The breakdown of this integration of the community and all its members is at the root of addiction. Dialogue is an important tool in re-building this integration. 

Dialogue is a method of communication that involves two-way conversation where people not only speak to each other but also really listen. This kind of listening involves empathy. Each partner in a dialogue is curious about the experiences of the other partners – about their assumptions, beliefs, and values. The goal is to leave the conversation with a better understanding.