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EDITORIAL – Fight against drug overdoses must begin with enforcement

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

WHEN A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY was declared by B.C.’s provincial health officer in April of 2016, it was an important step against drug overdose deaths in B.C.

Then-health minister Terry Lake followed up a few months later with a ministerial order on the development of overdose prevention sites.

And Christy Clark, the premier at the time, appointed a joint task force to lead the battle against overdose deaths. The aim was to interrupt the supply of toxic drugs and expand access to naloxone, supervised consumption services and addiction treatment medications.

Those were just a few of the measures taken against the overdose epidemic. But since 2016, more than 10,000 British Columbians have died from drug overdoses.

Commenting on the latest numbers released yesterday, chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said the issue comes down to the fact that the ever-increasing toxicity of illicit drugs is outpacing efforts to save lives.

B.C. will likely set another record in 2022 for loss of life due to those toxic drugs — more than six lives per day. That tragic trend includes Kamloops, where 47 people have died in the first half of 2022.

One of the main culprits is fentanyl, a synthetic opioid created for pain management. Because it’s 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, it’s easily open to abuse, and its presence in illicit drugs has risen exponentially.

So, obviously, the measures taken so far aren’t working. The impending decriminalization of small amounts of certain drugs may or may not help but it certainly isn’t the answer.

There’s still a debate to be held on providing addicts with free, clean drugs but, with street-drug toxicity confirmed as Enemy Number one, clearly the priority has to be getting rid of the poison, and that means a lot more resources for police. Only then can health-related measures become effective.

Not something many want to hear, but, like it or not, it’s the path that must be taken.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (9236 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on EDITORIAL – Fight against drug overdoses must begin with enforcement

  1. Trevor Jackson // August 17, 2022 at 1:56 PM // Reply

    It is rare to see any comment about helping folks to stop taking drugs that they know are very dangerous. Surely this is the only answer to the problem: help them cope with life instead of deliberately risking it, “as an escape?” People need a purpose in life and a way forward with a positive destination.

  2. I agree, go after the producers of this crap and get tough. It should be the death penalty for the people that manufacture and supply.

    • People will always try ways to soothe their pains, one way or another. The death penalty is no solution. To a certain extent drugs do make people happy. And considering how many people overall inebriate themselves with drugs on a daily bases a certain number of deaths is perhaps not such an anomaly. I am not trivializing death, as each occurrence is a dreadful event. I am just trying to convey the idea that the best we can do is not the death penalty but a better management of the drug supply and of the underlying issues pushing people into substance abuse.

  3. The war on drugs, despite ample resources given to police forces everywhere has been an abysmal failure. I read that somewhere a while back. Now you want even more money given to police to fight an invincible enemy? While plenty of help should be available for the ones seeking it, the warnings are pretty clear and well-defined: don’t take drugs.

  4. Ian MacKenzie // August 17, 2022 at 7:06 AM // Reply

    Color me stupid, but I do not understand why those who mix and sell these toxic combinations would intentionally kill off their own customers. Could somebody enlighten me on this point, please? Even if only in theory.

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