Westward Independent

Marina Sapozhnikov – Constituents Going Through Hell

by Westward Independent
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That afternoon my friend sounded tired on the phone. When I asked why, she said, “I am going through hell”.

In the last few months, she found out that her sweet, grade A student, athletic teenage son was addicted to drugs. When the shock passed, she went on a mission to save him just to find out that things were going from bad to worse. With growing desperation, she was knocking on one door after another but there was no answer. The system is simply not designed to treat people. And it is hostile to parents. 

When finally, the teen was able to get a treatment bed after two days, still in the agony of  withdrawal, he was discharged at his own request. The parents were not able to take part in the treatment and practically excluded from decision-making for their son. All that was left for them was to helplessly watch their child sinking deeper into addiction. The addiction that started with an innocent invitation from a friend:” Do you want to try one of these? It is fun. It is safe.”

There’s been a concerning emphasis on “harm reduction” as the toxic drug crisis in B.C. has tragically reached a record 2,511 deaths last year, with approximately 225,000 individuals (almost 5%) using drugs. Since April 2016, this crisis has claimed 13,317 lives, averaging over six deaths per day. This ongoing loss of life is intolerable. Advocates for “safe-supply” gave up on a comprehensive approach to addiction, neglecting prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and enforcement measures. Worse yet, some emphasize that drug use is acceptable.

The people of BC urgently require increased access to substance-use treatment, recovery programs, job training, mental-health services. BC’s budget for drug addictions is $40 million and doesn’t cover much more than the salaries of those distributing it. To compare, in Alberta, it is $1.55 billion and provides 10,000 treatment beds and they are all full, and working on building recovery communities. The Alberta Addictions and Mental Health Minister Dan Williams, called the BC’s “harm reduction” program a “harm production” program.

We keep hearing from the NDP government about fighting “stigma and prejudice”, when we really need to fight the crisis. When the average age of first-time drug or alcohol use is 13, when the number one cause of death in children 10-18 is drug overdose, we need preventive programs in schools which include education on drug and alcohol effects. We also need to fight the dangerous misconception that the drugs are “safe”, just because they are being prescribed, and do our best to prevent our children from never touching them and safeguard against drug dealers. The best help and support children have are their parents.

The government denies the extent of diversion, that is when drug users sell drugs from “safer supply” to drug dealers who go on to sell the drugs to our children. The consequence is that we see the effects of an ever-increasing drug crisis all around us. Why is it that the obvious solutions like strong preventive programs in schools are absent?  At this point we need to fight the treacherous misconception that the drugs are “safe”, just because they are being prescribed, and do our best to prevent our children from ever touching them and safeguarding against drug dealers. They need to know that experimenting with drugs is dangerous. Some children are first exposed to drugs at home, often from the “safer supply”. We need to support parents who are dealing with children with addiction. Even those who are fortunate enough to get treatment often end up on the streets just because there are no ongoing support programs, minimal effort for skill training, no housing, and in many cases, no family support. Unless all these aspects are addressed, the focus on giving more drugs to addicts will not improve the carnage that we see today on the streets. 

How many more families must suffer the loss of loved ones before the NDP government takes meaningful action with a comprehensive approach to address this crisis? At some point, we need to ask why the NDP government refuses to see what everybody else is seeing.

* Authorized by Dave Larocque, Financial Agent, davelaro@shaw.ca *


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