Pubdate: Thu, 05 Jan 2017
Source: Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Karin Siemens
Page: A7


Could someone please clarify something for me? In Canada we have laws
set in place to protect, to govern and direct. There is nothing safe
about injecting anything illegal into our system. If we truly care
about the welfare of addicts it's not about "reducing" the harm but
rather eliminating the harm and bringing hope where hope has been lost.

Do you have children? Here's my take on all of this. Turn the elements
of your stove on high, place your children's hands on those hot
elements and do not let them remove their hands. Gently reach done and
turn the heat down a few notches, well maybe a couple more. As long as
those hands are on the heat and the heat is on, damage will continue
to be inflicted. Their hands need to be removed from the heat and the
heat turned off, not simply down.

I, too, abused drugs and alcohol and became addicted. Almost three
years ago, I made a choice. I chose to say no to using drugs to get

Addiction is not a disability. It is a choice. I chose to use
substances to deal with or cope with my disability. We can become
disabled by abusing drugs and alcohol, but it is still a choice.

I believe we need to redefine our present definition of a disability
and question the funding that goes into supporting a person choosing
to use drugs.

So please help me out here. We are offering addicts a clean, safe,
warm place for them to inject an illegal substance. Not only are we
providing the accommodations for this, but we are staffing these
places with professionals that we as taxpayers are paying for.

I just don't get it. It's illegal to use drugs, yet we accommodate
these addicts because they continue to choose to use illegal drugs,
regardless of the risks involved. Those risks are even greater now
with the fentanyl epidemic on the rise.

Has anyone gone back to assess the effects of the safe-injection sites
that have been put in place? How has that decision impacted the
communities where the sites are? Has it helped in lessening the crisis
we are faced with? Are the addicts being helped out of their hell or
are we actually keeping them stuck in that cycle of addiction?

I have watched a gradual deterioration of our social structure and
health-care system. The problem is not the drug itself, but the
reality there are people choosing to use these substances regardless
of the risks. It's not just about saving a life in crisis, but more
about investing in people and helping them to build a life worth
living without substances. It's about hope, something that is
definitely missing on our streets.

Over the years, I have watched as funding cutbacks or misallocation of
funds have impacted our local community and the resources they can

We pour millions of dollars into "crisis intervention" rather than
treatment or rehabilitation. We took the "12-step approach" out of our
treatment plan and reached it with a "harm reduction" agenda.

Is it working? Are we seeing people's lives changed for the better and
for long term? Is everyone being told the truth about addiction,
street life and the longterm impact of "safe injection sites?"

Are we ready to deal with the impact this is going to have on our
community? What about those of us who have made the tough choice to
say no to drugs? Where are the resources to help us rebuild our lives?

I have a son in university and he deserves a stable future. Why should
he have to pay for the choices of those who are choosing to use drugs?
He's not forcing anyone to use drugs or stick a needle in their arm,
yet his taxes are paying for these illegal behaviours.

I may be opinionated but I also have life experience to stand behind
and it's because of this that I am attempting to speak out. Safe
injection sites a not the answer. We need to stop the use of drugs by
giving people a reason to quit, a reason to choose life.

Years ago we called it "tough love" because we did care. We were
committed to seeing changed lives within our own communities. There
were consequences for behaviours. Today, we are making accommodations
for dysfunction and illegal behaviours.

I'm choosing to speak out because I know it is possible to bring
lasting change. It begins with saying no, and then choosing to
continue to say no.

It's not easy, but it is right. I had to move away from the Kelowna
area to find real freedom from my addictions. There are drugs
everywhere, but I did not have history with drugs in the community I
moved to.

Basically, I got clean by doing almost everything opposite to what I
was told would work. I am clean today and I have no intentions of ever
going back, by the grace of God.

Without my faith I would not be alive today and I would not have the
hope I have found either.

I am not in "recovery" but rather I am building a life for myself, a
life worth living without substances, a life worth sharing with others
if I choose.

An addict may say, "I'm addicted and can't choose." Sorry, but you
make a choice everyday when you choose to use instead of saying no.
Addiction is a choice, not a disability. Let's redefine who is
actually eligible for disability funding and make a commitment to see
positive changes not only in the lives of those who use drugs, but
also the lives of those of us who have a real disability, something we
haven't chosen.

It's called SLURP- Street Level Un Recognized Politics. It's time the
bigwigs start "slurping" up the crap they've been dumping on us.

We all have a voice and we need to start using our voices to stop the
changes happening within our community that we do not agree with.

I am committed to bringing change, but not the change our governing
party is proposing. It's time to re-access the decisions we've already
made and determine if they have been beneficial or if maybe it's
actually the cause of the deterioration we are experiencing.

We need to stop building our community and our lives around the needs
of the addicts.

We need to offer them a hand up rather than continued handouts.
Addicts need to be held accountable and responsible for the choices
they are making. Stop excusing them by saying its a disability or a

It's this attitude that I believe is exactly what keeps us from moving
forwards towards abstinence. If we really do care, then let's
eliminate the harm, not simply reduce it. It is possible.

Karin Siemens, Lake Country
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt