Pubdate: Thu, 03 May 2007
Source: North Island Gazette (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 North Island Gazette
Author: Eric Johnson


Dear editor,

It's 2 a.m. Saturday.

Johnny has come to the hospital stating he's a drug addict and he's
had enough.

The waiting room is full of coughs and sprains; there is a crying
baby, an assault victim with a fat lip and goose egg on his head.

An elderly lady lays on a stretcher confused and incontinent.

Unfortunately for Johnny, his cry for help is way down the list of
priorities and he is asked to wait.

Hours go by and one by one the aches and sprain are dealt

Johnny remains but is fidgety and emotional. The years of abusing
himself and all who love him is too much and he starts to cry.

Johnny gives the ER physician a quick rundown of the last four to five

The speedball that knocked him to his knees, the crack hoot that sent
him into the world of 'the chicken', the pharmaceutical concoction
made up of benzos and opiates, dosage and type unknown.

During this time he has not slept, hydrated or eaten.

Johnny is given a piece of paper with the name and address of a drug
rehab facility and cautioned about drug use. You can go Johnny, good

Johnny is left standing in front of the hospital.

He has no money, dirty clothes, an orange juice pack and a tuna
sandwich in his coat.

This plays out day after day all over North America and we still don't
get it. Johnny is the most acute patient in the ER.

Of all the people waiting for the ER physician he is the only one who
may be dead tomorrow from an overdose, a beating, dehydration or
exposure. We must treat him so.

Our system needs a 24-hour drug hotline for addicts. This number
should be on every street corner and written on the walls of buildings
where the drug addicts live.

The 24-hour line must be a real person and not a recording.

In Johnny's case a cab will pick him up from the ER and take him to a
safe house where he can change into some donated clothes, get a bed
and be assured he has made a good choice.

The next morning, Johnny will be shown that our system really

We will listen to him. We will ask him to start working with a
counselor to deal with issues that led him to drugs.

 From there Johnny will start to make a plan for living

As time goes by Johnny will start to think about employment.

We need a system that cares and where the workers are

Nobody knows more than Johnny.

Let's listen to Johnny and understand his needs.

We can only get there if we seek 'not so much to be understood as to
understand' and with the help of those who do not necessarily have a
Master's in addiction, but rather those who have mastered their addiction.


Alert Bay
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