Editorial: Permanent state of drug crisis is unacceptable

Editorial: Permanent state of drug crisis is unacceptable

No indication that the opioid crisis is waning says that what we’re doing isn’t working.

It was good news and bad news all rolled into one. Last week it was announced that Duncan’s overdose prevention site will continue to operate for another year, and their lease has been extended on Trunk Road.

That’s terrible news in the sense that it means we still have a pressing need for the site. It means there are still many people in our community addicted to drugs who risk fentanyl and overdose on a regular basis. An Island Health spokesperson said the opioid crisis we find ourselves in isn’t slowing down, let alone coming to an end. There’s no light on that horizon.

On the positive side, there have been no deaths among the 18,000 visits to the site since it opened in 2016. So it is doing its job: saving people’s lives. We only wish that job wasn’t necessary.

The overdose prevention site — which risks becoming a permanent temporary measure — is triage, needed, yes, but not long-term strategy.

The fact that there is no indication that the opioid crisis is waning says that what we’re doing isn’t working. We need to really think outside the North American box where we treat drugs primarily as a crime problem rather than as a public health problem. By any measure, the war on drugs, a concept we’ve imported from our neighbours to the south, has been an abject failure.

And no, it’s not acceptable to just wait and let those who are addicted die off one after another so the problem is solved by attrition, as we’ve sometimes heard suggested. Such an idea is horrific, and the antithesis of the morals and actions of a civilized society.

Right now, far too often, we’re treating the symptoms of the problem, whether it’s crimes like thefts, as addicts look to support their habits, or opening overdose prevention locations.

We will probably never totally eliminate drug addiction from our communities. But we need to look at root causes and invest in tackling those, or we will never change the status quo — and we don’t believe a permanent state of crisis is acceptable.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

More sleeping cabins for the homeless in the Cowichan Valley could soon be put in place if a $2.5-million grant application to the UBCM Strengthening Communities’ Services funding program is successful. (File photo)
Funding sought to expand homeless initiatives in Cowichan Valley

$2.5-million grant would see more sleeping cabins and outreach projects

The old Stanley Gordon school in Lake Cowichan. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette file)
Editorial: Old school properties represent potential for our areas

There are opportunities, often sitting right in the middle of our small communities.

Sweet gum trees like this one in City Square will be replaced over the next three years. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Duncan plans big tree replacement project for downtown

Sweet gums in City Square and along Station Street will go over the next three years

Cowichan Valley Capitals defenceman Logan Rands pokes the puck away from Alberni Valley Bulldogs forward Talon Duff. (Elena Rardon/Black Press Media)
Offence sags as Cowichan Capitals reach midway mark

Caps score one goal in three games as pod season continues

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP, investigating explosion in Harewood, also came across an alcohol still on the property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Shannon Zirnhelt, from left, her son Lockie, 3, Julia Zirnhelt, 13, and Ella Krus, 13, co-founders of Third Planet Crusade are featured in a music video set to air on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
VIDEO: B.C.-made music video launched in time for Earth Day 2021

Singer songwriter Shannon Zirnhelt worked with Third Planet Crusade on the project in the Cariboo

Ambulance crews have been busy with a record number of emergency overdose calls this Wednesday, April 21. (BC Emergency Health Services)
B.C. paramedics responded to a record 138 overdose calls in a single day

Wednesday’s calls included 48 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 51 in Fraser Health

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. COVID-19 hotspots targeted as AstraZeneca vaccine runs low

17,000 appointments booked the first day for people aged 40 and up

B.C. Ferries’ sixth Island-class vessel launches at Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania. The ship is the second of two that will service the Nanaimo-Gabriola Island route starting in 2022. (Photo submitted)
Second hybrid ferry for Nanaimo-Gabriola route launched overseas

Island-class vessel will enter service in 2022

Dresses hang outside Nelson city hall as part of the REDress Project by Métis artist Jaime Black. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
B.C. red dresses symbolizing missing, murdered Indigenous women vandalized a 2nd time

Nelson’s REDress Project was vandalized along with an outdoor installation on Vancouver Island

A nurse loads a syringe with a vaccine for injection at the Victoria Clipper Terminal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout not enough to bring back normal life by fall: report

Only 51% of the population will be protected under B.C.’s current rollout, SFU professors say more vaccinations are needed to achieve herd immunity

Most Read