Pubdate: Thu, 31 Aug 2017
Source: Metro (Vancouver, CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: David P. Ball
Page: 3


Thursday is International Overdose Awareness Day, and Metro looks at
just a few of the ideas to end an ongoing epidemic that's on track to
kill 1,560 British Columbians in 2017.

1. Artisanal opiates?

Most overdoses have been from drugs laced with fentanyl and its even
deadlier cousins. An Aug. 17 B.C. Centre for Disease Control report
asked, why not let opiate users grow their own poppies to ensure an
untainted supply? It suggested authorities "explore medical opium"
through "grower's clubs, production on a model similar to medical
marijuana, personal cultivation."

2. Boost Addiction Treatment beds

Addiction experts and advocates have identified a severe shortage of
addiction treatment options in the province, despite a 16-month-long
declared public health emergency. Some substance users have to travel
far to costly rehabilitation centres outside B.C., while others warn
of inconsistent standards for existing private facilities here.

3. Legalize and prescribe drugs

It sounds extreme, but what could be more extreme than four British
Columbians dying every day because of a contaminated drug supply?
That's why drug user organizations such as the Vancouver Area Network
of Drug Users want not only more readily available prescription heroin
- - a proven harm reduction treatment endorsed by B.C.'s Provincial
Health Officer - but an end to drug prohibition laws they say have let
organized drug crime to essentially get away with murder. Portugal
decriminalized hard drugs, for instance, a proposal echoed by Mothers
Stop the Harm founder Leslie McBain, whose son died of an overdose.

4. Start early

A new study by Simon Fraser University's Centre for Applied Research
in Mental Health and Addiction urged better addictions and mental
health services for youth, and finds comparable data between provinces
inadequate. Meanwhile, the Canadian Mental Health Association B.C.
called for prioritizing early intervention for teens; their research
suggested 58,000 B.C. youth don't get needed mental health help.

5. Empower Emotional resilience

Downtown Eastside addiction expert Dr. Gabor Mate's ground-breaking
book In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts revealed how almost all his
drug-addicted patients had experienced abuse or neglect as children.
Likewise, the First Nations Health Authority warned that lasting scars
from colonization and systemic abuses were one reason 800 per cent
more First Nations women have overdosed than other women. Clearly a
mental wellness emergency is afoot, and psychosocial interventions
beyond life-saving measures are urgently needed.
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