Pubdate: Fri, 21 Jul 2017
Source: Chatham Daily News, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Chatham Daily News
Author: Dave Hodgson
Page: A4


Instead of overlooking the true issue of drug addiction in
Chatham-Kent and participating in the stigma that surrounds it, our
community must be proactive. Now is our opportunity to help
individuals suffering from drug addiction and prevent needless
overdoses while simultaneously protecting public health.

Last year in Canada there were 2458 opioid related overdose deaths
(two every day in Ontario), all which were preventable. Some readers
may turn a blind eye to this statistic and argue, "who cares?" and
"better for the rest of us". My question for those people is, when did
we lose our sense of community? When did we become so individualistic
that our judgment of others has clouded our ability to feel empathy?

With the recent amendments to Bill C-37 put in place by our Liberal
government, which makes the process of applying for safe consumption
sites easier, now is the time to counterattack the rising opioid trend
and provide drugs users with a safe injection site.

Opioid use in Chatham-Kent affects a significant portion of our
population and heavier drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine are
becoming the norm. Before this trend escalates, we must follow the
lead of our major Canadian cities (Vancouver and Toronto) and advocate
for a safe consumption site in Chatham-Kent to provide a more
progressive approach to drug addiction.

"Insite", which is the name of Vancouver's site, last year alone had
1,781 overdose interventions saving the lives of suffering
individuals. Yes, they are suffering. Because of the stigma that
surrounds drug addiction, this may seem like a waste of money and
resources to many in our community. But to reiterate, these
individuals are struggling, many from mental illnesses, and are
continually chastised for not having the "normal" coping mechanisms to
control their lives.

This safe injection site would allow for accessible, sanitary and safe
means of using illicit substances, as well as provide a friendly
environment free of judgment for staff members to actively engage with
drug users. Having staff onsite trained in harm reduction techniques
would allow addicts access to learn new strategies, be connected to
other treatment services, and provide a glimpse of hope for them to
realize their potential to overcome their addiction.

You may still feel this idea of allowing people to use illegal drugs
in an organized legal facility is ludicrous. Won't this encourage drug

Statistics have shown in Vancouver that there has not been a
substantial increase in drug use because of the opening of the legal
injection site. The truth of the matter is that a safe consumption
site is a radical idea. It does contradict the majority of our
community's thoughts toward drug addicts. But this facility would
approach the issue of drug use in a humane manner treating them as
people, not outcasts of society.

By providing a safe injection site, Chatham-Kent can confront the
opioid crisis before it becomes an epidemic in our own backyard.

Dave Hodgson

- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt