(Citizen file)

Editorial: Opioid crisis hits us in the face in May; what are we going to do about it?

Thus far, we have largely treated opioid addiction and use as a crime problem

Last week in Duncan two people overdosed on the street. It is due to the heroic efforts of a passing nurse from Courtenay and other first responders that they are still alive.

They are two faces of the opioid crisis that continues to ravage our province, from our most urban cities to our smallest towns. How bad is it? In May, the BC Coroners Service recorded the highest number of deaths from overdoses in a single month in this province, ever. A horrifying 170 people died last month from overdose.

The numbers begged the obvious comparison, and it was swiftly made. The total number of deaths in our province due to our other current health emergency, COVID-19, was 168 as of the middle of last week. More people have died from overdose in just one month. And yet look at the discrepancy and urgency with which we treat the two problems. We have done an excellent job of taking the necessary measures against COVID-19. We have done an abysmal job of addressing the opioid crisis.

Thus far, we have largely treated opioid addiction and use as a crime problem rather than a health problem. How is that working for us?

All the evidence we have tells us that what we are doing now isn’t working.

Providing the drug supply will not only ensure its safety for those who are taking these substances, it will significantly reduce the crime that surrounds drug dealing and use since there will be no need to steal to afford a fix, and no need for the violence that infests the drug trade.

“Soft on crime!” We can hear the howls now. But that’s the whole point. We need to decriminalize drug addiction. Then maybe we, and especially our politicians making the decisions, won’t feel so beholden to be “hard” on anything.

It’s not a cure-all, of course. There’s lots more beyond that that needs to be done, as keeping people addicted shouldn’t be the end goal, though as distasteful as some may find it, we will have to accept that some will remain dependent for the rest of their lives.

We have listened to Dr. Bonnie Henry to guide us through COVID-19. Why haven’t we listened to her when she recommends decriminalizing drug possession for personal use?

The only end if we stay on our current path is more early graves.

Editorialsopioid crisis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sudden death leaves Lake Cowichan’s Shanahan family of five children without a father

GoFundMe campaign set up by wife Tiffany’s friend to help during crisis

From theatres to patios, Vancouver Island Symphony plays through the pandemic

A series of pop-up concerts are taking place in various locations from Saltair to Comox

Webinars provide emotional support, training for caregivers

Following the webinars, recordings of the sessions will be available to watch

Duncan model makes quarter finals in ‘Maxim’ magazine contest

Brandee Peart among top one per cent left in competition

Sources say Canada, U.S. likely to extend mutual travel ban into late August

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted at the possibility after a phone call with U.S. President

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Port Alberni will have a salmon derby on Labour Day after all

Alberni Valley Tyee Club reveals ‘socially distanced’ derby only for Labour Day 2020

Most Read