Pubdate: Sat, 04 Feb 2017
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Terry Lake
Page: B4


Re: Get addicts off drugs, Editorial, Jan. 27

I was surprised and saddened to read your editorial on the opioid
overdose crisis in B.C.

Nobody wakes up in the morning and decides to become an addict, and
people don't continue using drugs because they are unaware of the
dangers or consequences of their addiction. These are human beings -
our family, friends, colleagues and neighbours - suffering from a
legitimate, complex, life-threatening chronic health condition.
Addiction involves many social factors, and there is no one approach
or easy answer.

That is why we are taking wide-ranging action with partners across the
health and public safety sectors to prevent as many future overdose
tragedies as we can.

I take great exception to your claim that harm reduction policies
"send the message it's okay to be a drug addict." Harm-reduction -
combined with longer-term addiction treatment and recovery - helps
keep people alive so they have the chance to take steps to recovery
when they are ready. These strategies keep people safe by preventing
injury, deaths and communicable diseases, and have been proven time
and again as necessary and effective for a holistic problematic
substance use strategy.

We have earmarked more than $64 million for measures to support our
provincial response to the public health emergency declared last
April. This includes $16 million announced this month to increase
addictions treatment such as additional residential treatment beds,
intensive outpatient services and removing financial barriers for
opioid addiction treatment medication.

We will get through this crisis. I hope it leads us to an improved
system of support, without stigma or marginalization - and that we
grow to see each other as fellow human beings who are doing their best
with what life throws at them.

Terry Lake, B.C. Minister of Health
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