Treat users to slow down fentanyl epidemic

While some of us are sitting down to Christmas dinner, there will be people looking to score a fix of their drug of choice.

While some of us are sitting down to Christmas dinner, there will be people in the Cowichan Valley out looking to score a fix of their drug of choice.

While most of us open gifts, they could, quite literally, be dying.

The Cowichan Valley isn’t immune to the fentanyl crisis that’s gripping communities across British Columbia.

We’ve always had our share of addicts, but this province has never seen so many overdoses as in recent months, and so many senseless deaths.

We’ve all heard the horror stories: children finding their parents dead one morning. The suspect? Fentanyl.

Addicts are showing up at emergency rooms as many as seven times in one day as overdose patients — this per a CBC documentary.

And already there is a stronger and more deadly drug than fentanyl: carfentanil.

Many aren’t choosing to take these substances, they are added to drugs like heroin or ecstasy without the end user’s knowledge.

After all, drug dealers aren’t known to be the most honest of people. Nor the smartest, apparently, as they continue to kill off their clients in record numbers.

Data from the B.C. Coroners Service shows that 128 people died as a result of illicit drug use during November. The previous high for a single month was 82, set last January.

Total drug deaths for the year sit at 755 as of the end of November, an increase of 70 per cent over the same period last year.

Fentanyl isn’t the culprit in every single case but it is the culprit is more than half of them.

It’s truly a scourge on our society. Those on the front lines are scrambling to boost harm reduction, including supervised injection sites, handing out naloxone kits, and warning people not to take drugs alone. If you’re by yourself and you stop breathing, that’s it.

But what we also need are more drug treatment centres.

Not every addict wants to get clean. But a lot more of them do than can get into treatment in a timely manner.

We need to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak, like maybe when they’re scared after an overdose or multiple overdoses, or after seeing a friend die. Not give them time to take another hit and talk themselves out it.

But right now, we don’t have the necessary resources.

It’s great that the provincial government is finally looking at limiting the importation of pill presses, which will hopefully slow down the ability of so many people to make the stuff with relative ease.

But to really slow down this epidemic we need to take away the customers. And what they need is immediate help when they reach out.