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Northwest Territories government updates substance abuse messaging with video profiles

A new government-driven social media campaign – We Need to Talk about this Stuff – has launched.
Dez Loreen is one of the six northern profiles that’s a part of the GNWT’s new “We Need to Talk about this Stuff campaign that launched on August 4. Photo courtesy of Dez Loreen.

A new government-driven social media campaign – We Need to Talk about this Stuff – has launched.

The series of profile videos, featuring six Northerners, analyzes the relationship between substance abuse and mental heath, as well as challenges the stigma surrounding it.

Dez Loreen, one of the profiles for the campaign, was contacted as someone that was sought out for the program, bringing experiences to help to warn against substance abuse.

“I think it’s really important that we have these dialogues,” said Loreen. “These communications, this discussion about these issues. Substance use and [being] responsible.”

Regarding the term substance use, Loreen, an Inuvik town councillor who is running for mayor this fall, refers to alcohol and marijuana, and does not advocate for the use of harder drugs such as cocaine.

“It’s important to me that people understand that you don’t have to drink the whole bottle in one night,” said Loreen. “It doesn’t have to be the two to six in one sitting. You don’t have to get so drunk that you argue with your friends and you start crying because you can’t control yourself emotionally.”

Not having someone to help him get control, Loreen reflects on how positive aspects could’ve made a signifcant difference if community members had been available to lend a word.

“It’s safe partying, it’s about being responsible.”

Alana Kronstal, GNWT spokesperson, provided details on how, despite starting work on the series a year ago, its relevance remains today.

“There’s a lot of different takes in this series that we thought were timely and important,” said Kornstal. “Especially during a heightened time of substance use. The summer time is a time [where] people often use to excesses; “Well, the sun is out and people are socializing again.”

Overall, Kronstal says the series there as a reminder that help is out there for those that need it.

“We hear from individuals,” Minister of Health and Social Services Julie Green said in a news release. “They feel shame, blame, hopelessness and distress because of their circumstances, which often prevents them from seeking help when they need it.”

For those interested, the profiles are shown on the GNWT website, encouraging NWT communities to talk about the issues presented.

Available supports and resources are also promoted.