There are a number of ways to look at the drug epidemic that has been claiming lives in record numbers.
For many, empathy would be an initial reaction. People are thankful they have not suffered illness or a traumatic event that has driven so many people into the streets of Whalley or the Downtown Eastside, where drug overdoses appear most prevalent.
These people also tend to be thankful that they have the strength to deal with their own adversity without drugs or alcohol.
Another reaction has been sympathy, in which one feels for those we have lost and, perhaps even more poignantly, for the loved ones left behind.
Still another reaction is gratefulness, for the emergency crews and volunteers who are reaching out to try to help all parties involved.
But one reaction that has gained more prominence in recent weeks has been that of thrift – and accompanying anger – that drug users are spending our collective tax contributions needlessly.
It is this latter reaction that is most perplexing for those looking for a solution.
Certainly one of the costs of drug abuse can be counted in dollars and cents. In fact, not only are residents across the province paying the price, Vancouver homeowners have just been informed that their property taxes are about to rise 0.5 per cent because of the fentanyl crisis.
But if these people are truly upset about the handful of dollars that amounts to their contribution to drug abuse, it seems odd to focus so acutely. After all, tobacco use has its associated costs, as does alcohol use. And commuters and travellers are certainly subsidized by those who rarely leave the house. And anyone’s choice of parenthood is costing us all.
To cherry-pick this particular cause seems to be lacking the aforementioned emotions of empathy and sympathy.
That highly potent drugs are being mixed in with traditional drugs is a relatively new phenomenon. It’s increased the numbers of fatalities across B.C. and has directly impacted more affluent neighbourhoods in Surrey and White Rock in recent months.
To those looking for answers, we express our appreciation. To those only concerned with the financial costs, we implore them to look a little deeper.