The Canadian government would rather pour money into supplying safe drugs for addicts in Canada to use rather than spending money on the right solutions……Treatment.
And while naloxone kits have been proven to save lives, in BC 622 addicts have died from overdoses on illicit drugs as of October 2016. That number already far exceeds the 397 deaths related to overdoses that occurred in 2015.
When most Canadians look at the numbers, they can see only one solution proposed by the Canadian government. Most Canadians think if we could somehow wave a magic wand and have pharmaceutical-grade cocaine, opiates and even marijuana available to addicts, you would see those 622 people that overdosed this year and that number would drop like a stone.
Pharmaceutical-grade opioids have sparked the interest of researchers in the Lower Mainland, and results have been encouraging. The SALOME project, for example, has treated more than 100 patients in the Downtown Eastside with pharmaceutical-grade heroin to study its efficacy. After 88,000 injections, there were only 14 recorded overdoses and no deaths, but this is still drug replacement therapy.
However, B.C. doctors cannot prescribe the treatments to patients, which forces addicts to turn to street drugs — and risk consuming fentanyl. It’s very, very common knowledge on the street in BC. Anybody you talk to who is using is well aware of the fact that pretty much anything you buy downtown is going to be laced with fentanyl, and the willingness to take that risk, illustrates the power of addiction.
Addiction is a killer. It’s a wildly life-threatening, irrational set of behaviours. We really don’t know much in the way of answers. Canadian Addiction Recovery Network and proponents want policy makers to acknowledge addiction as a mental illness, and the only way to fight it is to develop a, “comprehensive mental health treatment that deals with the absolutely crippling lack of self-esteem and daily coping that lead people into drug addiction in the first place.”
We might just have to make the government rethink their interpretation of the term “addiction” overall.
“[Addiction] is not a desire to get high — it’s a desire to kill the pain away of knowing you don’t belong and how to cope daily.”