LETTERS: Drug reactions part of problem


Re: Delve deeper into drug crisis, Dec. 28 editorial; Rehabilitation versus enabling, Dec. 30 letters.


Re: Delve deeper into drug issue, Dec. 28 editorial.

Your Dec. 28 editorial was curious on some points.

First, public concern about the financial drain of drug addicts and addiction doesn’t necessarily mean people don’t have empathy or understanding. It’s just a logical question to ask when resources are strained and people who contribute taxes are suffering because precious services are being diverted.

When people are waiting hours for an ambulance and are lined up in emergency for six hours waiting for attention, it’s not unreasonable to ask what is happening.

Saying concern over costs of treating overdoses is cherry-picking, and equating the costs with alcohol abuse and smoking, is misguided. Smoking and alcohol are legal; users pay sales taxes, and acquiring money for the products usually doesn’t involve illegal activity and sometimes violence, as street drugs do.

But the biggest glaring omission in the editorial was in not directing any kind of blame or questions to the provincial government, which has never developed a plan to reduce addiction, offered any kind of readily-accessible provincewide treatment or dealt with the grinding poverty that often leads to abuse.

As a knee-jerk reaction, the province has provided naloxone kits, but what else? The cost of treating overdose victims is something no government should be tolerating, let alone bragging about.

Brain damage and other irreparable results of overdoses and subsequent use of naloxone can cost thousands per patient day – money that might better be spent on other, equally critical public-health issues.

Premier Christy Clark likes to boast about a large surplus, but it has been built on shortchanging the most vulnerable – the poor, the addicted, natives, handicapped, seniors and school children.

Your editorials should not be asking why taxpayers are lacking compassion for addicts, but why the government lacks compassion for all these groups. Whatever well-meaning actions are being undertaken by the province – and cities – somewhere and sometime, they have to come to grips with the reality of their misguided failures.

Evelyn Magee, Surrey

• • •

Quite frankly, I was appalled at the tone of your editorial, which I assume was written in reply to your paper’s online survey results that showed an overwhelming response from your readers who wanted to see governments reduce spending to fight the current drug crisis.

Your passive-aggressive and condescending tone to somehow guilt the reader was, to be blunt, shameful. How dare you accuse us of lacking empathy or sympathy.

There is no question the current drug epidemic is a crisis and a tragic situation for all involved, however, in a misguided effort to show compassion, many in the media, civic politics and the various drug-treatment programs have simply become enablers.

As most parents know, showing compassion to children often means showing where behaviour boundaries are. It is in no way compassionate to allow people to abuse themselves or those around them.

Your analogy – creating some form of specious parallel to smoking, alcohol and commuters – breaks down as all analogies do. Even if we do bear costs related to these activities, the last time I checked, smoking, drinking alcohol and commuting are legal activities. That cannot be said for the drug crisis, which is one of illicit drug-use and, by definition, refers to a product that is forbidden by law, rule or custom.

Users purchasing these drugs – whether in Vancouver’s drug-ridden East Side or the recreational user in Kitsilano – know they are doing something that is illegal.

No amount of ‘clean-injection sites’ will solve this problem. No amount of money spent equipping first responders will help those taking an illegal drug, alone in their home. No amount of education will prevent drug purchases for those who choose to ignore reality.

The simple truth is we are looking for the wrong solution to the current drug problem. The people who are currently taking these drugs are, in many cases, trying to fix a hole in their heart, to help them get by and make it to another day. You can’t fix that hole with so-called progressive, trendy “feel good” ideas, even if there is some supposed science behind it.

We have been fighting this problem for decades and it’s only gotten worse. There is no amount of money, education, “safe-injection sites” or science that can fix a problem of the soul.

Let’s stop looking for well-intentioned but sorely misguided Band-Aid solutions to this current tragedy and start asking the hard questions about why these people are taking drugs in the first place.

As a society, we need to get to the root of the problem. Only when we can identify and attempt to fix that problem will we be able to help them.

Jerry Lucky, White Rock

• • •

Thank you for this inspirational editorial. It greatly lifted my spirits and reminded me that compassion does exist despite the many negative comments about addicts I have read in your letters section.

After perusing Don Campbell’s Dec. 30 letter (Rehabilitation versus enabling), I could only sigh at the irony of a sentence that includes “solve the root problems associated with drug abuse” and then refers to it as an “immoral and despicable habit.”

Addicts are telling us a story about the world we live in.

We aren’t listening.

Maureen Kerr, Surrey

• • •

Re: Rehabilitation versus enabling, Dec. 30 letters.

I am always amazed at ignorance of substance-abuse issues disguised as indifferent intolerance.

The deaths attributed to the fentanyl overdoses that are overwhelming our overworked and understaffed emergency service providers are not a problem on the periphery of our society, but a problem concerning all of us.

To belittle these victims by the term ‘druggies’ just magnifies ignorance of the situation as a whole.

Yes, there needs to be a solution, and perhaps ‘throwing money at it’, is not it. However, quoting text from the Christian Bible does absolutely zero in the context of helping, or reducing the carnage.

Lend a hand to your fellow human beings that are in need, rather than throwing them to the lions.

To quote from the letter writer’s own source – “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

Compassion is needed, not derision.

Robert Peebles, White Rock