We need to ‘own’ the opioid crisis

The overdose observed by a father and his child was very difficult for them to witness. (See story, page 3.) The fact is however, that this shooting up in our downtown is an everyday occurrence and this behavior is witnessed by the RCMP regularly.

In fact it is so commonplace that it is completely ignored rather like the lack of coming to a stop at a stop light or not signaling a turn.

I have seen tenants in an apartment building in downtown Chilliwack stepping over an addict while in the act of giving himself a fix.

The truth is simple. Our citizens are numbed by the problem. The police are overwhelmed and the very health professionals who bear the brunt of the aftermath of drug overdose are sapped of the energy to cope with an unending stream of addicted victims in the ward of our hospital.

We have candidates vying for provincial elected office who, when pressed, spout the same tired platitudes we have heard from their ilk for far too long.

There are no political proponents who are willing to stick their necks out and truly advocate for real change.

The changes include safe injection sites with real counseling and medical and psychiatric help for the addict. Some talk of social housing and assistance, but we have heard all this many times before and little is done and not fast enough; no level of government puts the sufficient amounts of funds or plan in place. We have an MP who refuses to advocate in Parliament for safe injection sites.

We have the very residents who see the drug problem with their own eyes giving criticism to our health professionals who dare to “go public” with pleas for action.

The time has come for us to go past the reporting of unpleasant sights of drug use on the streets of our city and focus on how we as a society can come to grips with the “drug problem” once and for all. What was seen by these good folks is not unusual, sad as it is. The police, the first responders, the hospital emergency personnel, our ambulance attendants, the hardworking social volunteer organizations are tapped out. Our families with innocent children who come across this behavior are exhausted and disgusted.

We need action now, not excuses. Don’t tell me you pay too much tax. This is your community. This your problem. Own it! Do something about it. Talk about it in your church. Engage your neighbours. Phone somebody. Write a letter. If you do little else don’t close your eyes anymore.

Wayne Underhill

Chilliwack BC