Drug addiction, consequences and responsibility

The topic we were addressing was the very obvious problem of homeless people in our town.

Drug addiction, consequences and responsibility

A while ago this writer had a conversation, on the street, with three men well known in the City of Duncan. Their names aren’t important. It’s what we talked about that is.

The topic we were addressing was the very obvious problem of homeless people in our town. It didn’t take very long for the conversation to focus on the crimes that some of these people commmit around D Town. But the primary topic was about homelessness in general.

My position was that we need to change the way we look at the homeless problem. That attempting to resolve the problem by thinking that all it requires is a housing solution for the down and out, is in part, the wrong way to go. I said that we, as a community, are trying to resolve an obviously serious problem by treating the symptoms, not the real causes.

I took the position that what we needed, as well as appropriate housing, was an in depth sociological study of those in need of our help. There are many reasons why people are homeless. Drug addiction, mental and physical health problems or the simple fact that not all of us are able to compete and survive in the society we have created, are some of the reasons.

The three men were unanimous that the biggest problem is drug addiction. “Powders”, as they are known on the street, are the major drug problem. And heroin, to these guys, is the biggest problem of all the drugs.

The word “accountability” came up frequently in our conversation. It was felt that the courts, in particular the judges, weren’t doing their job. One of the men was adamant that those who commit drug driven crimes must be held “accountable”. He was very intense about that. He left the discussion after a while.

I felt then, as the discussion continued with just two of these men, that a possible alternate word for “accountable” is “consequences”. But whatever word is used we all agreed that “when you do a crime” there should be “consequences”. We all agreed that there should be some sort of payback to the community. We all agreed that it is essential that each individual take ownership of their addiction or the associated criminal acts.

These guys weren’t talking about putting a whole bunch of people in jail. They are frustrated, a bit angry, but at the same time they’re trying to figure out workable solutions and are out there, on the street, working on the problem.

Resources are needed. Money and people. Solutions can be found. One of the three men has required, for want of a better word, two poroblem individuals to take ownership of their actions and addiction problems. He says it’s working out better for these two. And we al lknow that simply telling people to “get their shit together” won’t and doesn’t work. Nor does the way we’ve been trying to solve the problem. Up until now.

Peter McGuigan


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