LETTERS: Fentanyl talk misdirects

Editor:

Re: Managing a health crisis, Jan. 4 letters; Drug reactions part of problem, Jan. 6 letters.

Editor:

Re: Managing a health crisis, Jan. 4 letters.

The CEO of Fraser Health’s letter on the overdose crisis notes a proposal to open “two sites for supervised consumption services” in Surrey.

Describing a taxpayer-funded place for addicts to safely take drugs as a supervised consumption service is simply normalizing and legitimizing addiction to the public and we need to be very aware when these sorts of words are chosen to frame the discussion around addition.

The choice of words may be very deliberate by Fraser Health, possibly even suggested to it by media strategists. But given the human tragedy and cost to our communities, it’s a huge mistake to begin describing the problem this way.

Words matter. It’s a well-understood communication strategy that changing the words to describe, and using them often, will manipulate a conversation and, ultimately, thinking on an issue.

Do we really want to move our society and thinking from ‘addiction is an illness to be treated’ to ‘addiction is OK and we will make sure that drugs are consumed safely?’

I think not, and shame on Fraser Health for using words that put us on that path.

A. Hills, Surrey

• • •

Re: Drug reactions part of problem, Jan. 6 letters.

Why is it that everyone with ill-informed opinions feel the need to express them loudly?

One might be entitled to opinions but one is not entitled to disguise them as a set of facts.

The simple fact, supported by an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence, is that drug addiction is a biologically based disease of the brain. Drug addiction is not a moral weakness, is not caused by God, is not a problem of the soul, nor are drug addicts trying to fix a hole in their hearts.

The root of the problem is that cocaine, opiates, alcohol, nicotine – please note, it doesn’t matter whether they are legal or not – affect the production, release and uptake of neurotransmitters such as dopamine in the brain by mimicking them.

These drugs induce activity in the brain reward system (BRS). The BRS, or mesocorticolimbic pathway, is necessary for survival since it motivates important activities, such as food seeking and eating, mating and parenting.

However, the above drugs saturate the BRS to the point that a person becomes conditioned to the intense level of drug-induced pleasure.

The normal level of natural rewards are no longer experienced as very pleasurable and, after chronic use, the brain’s BRS becomes drained so that nothing is pleasurable – not even the drugs.

These drugs impair the brain’s chemical balance and therefore affect mood, thought and behaviour.

Continued drug abuse is not a voluntary behaviour. It is a preventable behaviour, it is treatable, however, it is a chronic disorder that requires multiple strategies and multiple episodes of intervention, which include safe injection sites, naloxone and far more.

The evidence-based science is available, but it’s up to society to educate themselves and demand the provincial governments develop the effective treatments to decrease the incidence rate of drug addictions.

We expect no less when it comes to treating cancer or heart disease.

Susan Muraja, Surrey