Good case for following Portugal drug model
Dear Alistair [MP MacGregor] and Sonia [MLA Furstenau], I was at a Duncan United Church presentation on local homelessness and drug addiction, with its accompanying crime and misery. Nick Versteeg’s excellent film documentary A Just Society and the following panel discussion, brought many questions to be answered.
A good case was made for following the Portuguese model. In Portugal, the rates of addiction and overdose were so high that one per cent of the population were affected — in Canada that would be 360,000 people. Many of the addicts we see in our valley have undergone terrible childhood abuse and often have to steal to buy drugs that kill the pain. It must be seen as a health care approach rather than a criminal one, and treated accordingly. Portugal did just this, and decriminalized possession for the use of all drugs, providing centres and mobile units to provide the drugs and offer support for the suffering. Pushers were no longer in the picture and crime dropped. I do hope you can look at this model and see how we can apply it in Canada. It would save a great deal of money, as most of our incarcerated are addicts, and we are paying for the court system and to keep them locked up in jail instead of meeting their mental health requirements.
I also believe that young teens should be educated as to what happens to a child in its early years to turn him or her into a criminal or addict, so that when they become parents, they have an idea that the way their child is treated will create the adult. This could open their own floodgates of having been abused on whatever level, and professional help given before they turn to drugs for their own pain, and perpetuate the cycle of sadness. The speakers said they have a curriculum ready to go, but no one is taking it seriously in the education departments.
Addicts feel they are not worthy of being loved or helped, and we need to recognize them as human beings, and say hello as we pass.
Thank you for considering this heartbreaking and increasing problem.