Editorial: Permanent state of drug crisis is unacceptable

No indication that the opioid crisis is waning says that what we’re doing isn’t working.

It was good news and bad news all rolled into one. Last week it was announced that Duncan’s overdose prevention site will continue to operate for another year, and their lease has been extended on Trunk Road.

That’s terrible news in the sense that it means we still have a pressing need for the site. It means there are still many people in our community addicted to drugs who risk fentanyl and overdose on a regular basis. An Island Health spokesperson said the opioid crisis we find ourselves in isn’t slowing down, let alone coming to an end. There’s no light on that horizon.

On the positive side, there have been no deaths among the 18,000 visits to the site since it opened in 2016. So it is doing its job: saving people’s lives. We only wish that job wasn’t necessary.

The overdose prevention site — which risks becoming a permanent temporary measure — is triage, needed, yes, but not long-term strategy.

The fact that there is no indication that the opioid crisis is waning says that what we’re doing isn’t working. We need to really think outside the North American box where we treat drugs primarily as a crime problem rather than as a public health problem. By any measure, the war on drugs, a concept we’ve imported from our neighbours to the south, has been an abject failure.

And no, it’s not acceptable to just wait and let those who are addicted die off one after another so the problem is solved by attrition, as we’ve sometimes heard suggested. Such an idea is horrific, and the antithesis of the morals and actions of a civilized society.

Right now, far too often, we’re treating the symptoms of the problem, whether it’s crimes like thefts, as addicts look to support their habits, or opening overdose prevention locations.

We will probably never totally eliminate drug addiction from our communities. But we need to look at root causes and invest in tackling those, or we will never change the status quo — and we don’t believe a permanent state of crisis is acceptable.

Just Posted

Local Cowichan youth shines in national writing contest

Cowichan Tribe member Danika Smith places fifth in her category in Indigenous Arts & Stories contest

Child hit and killed in driveway in Cobble Hill

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Cobble Hill’s Price sprints to first Dirt Cup championship

Robbie Price’s first win on the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series… Continue reading

Cowichan police warn of cryptocurrency scam

More than $64,000 in losses so far

Campers hailed heroes in rock face rescue at Cowichan Provincial Park

The campers quickly noticed the man in distress and jumped into the river to swim across.

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

PHOTOS: North Island home gutted in fire deemed ‘suspicious’

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Vancouver Island woman assaulted after confronting thief

RCMP warn residents to call for police assistance

Island Health issues safer drug-use tips ahead of music festival season

Health authority aims to reduce overdose risks at festivals

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Most Read