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It’s a grueling job: long hours and hard work. The work is often dirty, dark, noisy, and dangerous. And half the country thinks you are responsible for wrecking the environment, when all you are trying to do is earn a decent living.

This is Fort Mac, where thousands of young men and women come to make money, to get on their feet, buy a house, or support their family, but thousands of Fort Mac workers end up losing it all to drug addiction.

Fort Mac is known as a place where you can make good money, but it’s also known as a place of violence, homelessness, sex workers, polluted air, land and water — and rampant drug addiction.

Fly-in, fly-out workers stay in regimented work camps; sometimes, there’s up to 40,000 in one camp, and it’s a long way from home, family, and friends. Many men say that it’s kind of like living in jail.

But the pay is good, if you can endure the conditions.

The work schedule is usually 12 hours a day for 14 days straight, some people work three weeks straight. This kind of schedule makes it difficult for relationships, and many marriages breakup: loneliness and heartbreak is rampant.

In conditions like these, it’s hard to say no to a little escapism to get you through the day. A recorded 40 to 50 per cent of workers engage in illicit drug use to cope with loneliness and stress, or to enhance work performance. And the high wages make it easy to buy the drugs.

There have been 354 drug-related incidents in just one year. Fort McMurray has twice the cocaine problem as other cities in Alberta, and alcohol, ecstasy, cocaine, and oxycodone are often found on the worksite, which leads, not only to drug addiction problems, but also serious safety concerns.

Depression and anxiety are rife in Fort Mac, and unfortunately, there is a large and accessible supply of fentanyl, cocaine, and crystal meth to ease the pain. This is an environment where substance abuse can become a daily habit, and addiction quickly follows.

If you suspect a loved one is struggling with drug use, help them get the help they need.
Fort Mac workers may be a long way from home, but that doesn’t mean there is no one to help. Andy Bhatti is a professional interventionist who provides support to oil workers in Fort McMurray.

Sometimes, all someone needs is support and someone they can talk to about their drug abuse and addiction to help set them on the road to recovery. Call Andy Bhatti today for immediate help.