It’s been a mostly invisible problem in the Cowichan Valley for years, but fentanyl has dragged it kicking and screaming for attention into the light.
Drugs are not new to Duncan, or the rest of the Cowichan Valley. But never have they been so in-your-face.
Whereas before everyone knew there were some people who lived most of the year under the bridge, or who holed up on scrub land in makeshift tents, the rest of Cowichan’s residents weren’t confronted with piles of needles everywhere.
It really is a whole new world, where parents are having to check playgrounds for discarded drug paraphernalia before allowing their kids to enjoy the equipment, and folks are finding sharps in hordes a few feet off public trails.
Darkest of all, it’s a world where more than 25 people in Cowichan have died of drug overdoses in just one year.
Fentanyl has turned a persistent problem into a catastrophe that communities everywhere are struggling to come to grips with. It’s addiction and death on a scale we’ve never before faced. The statistics about the percentage of drugs being sold containing fentanyl are staggering. Last year, a study found that at one site 86 per cent of the street drugs tested contained the dangerous opioid. We would venture to guess those numbers have only increased. Overdoses are not deterring addicts from seeking out their next fix.
So while there really was no perfect place for the overdose prevention site that is now up and running in Duncan, we sure need it. Stats have shown it will save lives. Now we just need some real movement on longer term fixes for this public health crisis.
Addicts need a place to go immediately if they want to get clean, along with treatment for the problems underlying their drug addictions. So far we haven’t heard much on these fronts. Government needs to step up.