Opinion: Action and education on addiction

One mother's hope that our society won't give up on the people struggling with addiction

Any hope that the surge in overdose deaths last year was a temporary anomaly were pushed aside by the latest numbers from the B.C. Coroner’s service.

They showed what most people feared; that December was a particularly deadly month, and that in 2016, 914 people died.

That’s more than 17 people a week.

The exact numbers for Chilliwack are a little difficult to pin down. But the encouraging news is they aren’t high enough to warrant special mention in the coroner’s report.

Still, every death is a tragedy, as one mother wrote in a recent letter to The Progress.

Her son died New Year’s Day of a fentanyl overdose.

He had struggled with addiction and mental health issues, but did not deserve to die – not like that.

He was one of the many killed this year by a drug that does not discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re a chronic drug addict, or a first time user. It doesn’t care if you’re wealthy or poor, educated or not. “If you do fentanyl, or a drug that is laced with fentanyl, it will kill you,” she writes.

Her message to others is not just a warning about the dangers of fentanyl.

She asks that people educate themselves about addiction and gain some understanding of the devastation it causes – not just for the individual, but for families and the community as a whole.

What’s not helpful are the hurtful and judgemental comments she reads online and hears in conversations. Those comments say the government has done too much and is spending too much on a segment of the population that is beyond hope.

But there is always hope, she insists.  “One person will hear a message and one person will be able to turn their life around. If you can do that for just one person you know, or don’t even know, directly, or indirectly then it is all worth it.”

What’s needed, this grieving mother said, is education and action. Not judgements.

Maybe we should listen.