Public forum on opioid addiction held in Sault Ste. Marie

Opioid addiction was front and centre at a public forum called Healing Our Community in Sault Ste. Marie on Monday night.

"I would classify what's happening here as a crisis," says organizer Rachel Marzetti

A public forum called Healing Our Community was held in Sault Ste. Marie on Monday to address opiate addiction in the city. (The Associated Press/Patrick Sison)

Opioid addiction was front and centre at a public forum called Healing Our Community in Sault Ste. Marie on Monday night.

The city has been smarting for the last month since a documentary called Steel Town Down, which focused on opioid addiction in the downtown and Jamestown neighbourhoods, aired on CTV.

While some people were quick to say the documentary overstated Sault Ste. Marie's drug problem, others felt it was time to talk.

"I would classify what's happening here as a crisis," Rachel Marzetti, one of the organizers of the forum, said in an interview with CBC's Morning North.

Sault Ste. Marie has been in the national media spotlight lately, but not in a good way. CTV's W5 recently did a documentary about opiate addiction in the Sault called Steel Town Down. A public forum called Healing Our Community was organized to talk about the issue. We spoke with Rachel Marzetti , who was one of the organizers and who is on her own healing journey from opiate addiction. 10:07

Emergency room visits on the rise

Marzetti said she wanted to bring citizens and frontline workers together, and highlight addiction and mental health services available in the community.

"I felt it very important, my entire group of organizers felt it important, that we needed to dispel the fact that there are no services here and to try to help connect our service providers together," she said.

Marzetti said the number of people with addiction issues showing up to the city's emergency rooms is on the rise.

She added that the city's drug problem is not confined to one neighbourhood, but affects the whole community.

'We need to rally the right people'

Marzetti is no stranger to addiction. Her own struggle with opioids started with an undiagnosed medical condition for which she was prescribed painkillers.

"And it just spiraled from there. It was ten years before I even opened my mouth and let anybody know that I was addicted," she said.

"I continued to work, I was maintaining a job, I was functioning in society, but at the end of the day the only thing I wanted to do was come home and use my medications."

Marzetti now wants to help connect other people to the services they need. She said more government funding will be key to supporting those services and tackling addiction in the city.  

"We need to rally the right people to speak on our city's behalf and say, 'We have a problem we need to fix and this is how we need to fix it.'"