you’d think, as we drift into the Age of the Virus, that doctors would be out the street, prescribing what was needed, because they’re doctors. their general unwillingness to step up at this point, when all the regulatory barriers have been overcome, is fucking disgusting. the contrast between the health professionals everywhere being brave and putting themselves at risk to treat people ill from COVID-19, or speaking out against repressive governments lying about the situation, and the doctorly response to the overdose thing is striking. most of the doctors and academics have better jobs now than they did in 2016. that’s a fact that needs to be more widely known and make you angrier. why would they risk their power? for you? as if.
thousands have died already. who cares if more drug users die? nobody, that’s who.
this is not about you at all. this is a pandemic. its everybody.
to take care of each other, we need to stay home, as Dr Henry, Dr Tam, the Health Minister, the Prime Minister suggest, direct, order. it’s public health: stay home.
to do that, you need food, you need medicine, you need a home, and we need each other. in fact more than ever.
so stop demanding action from them, and stand up for each other.
no, its not perfect, and who cares, because guess what else is not perfect, and we’re out of time. so while a prescription for dillys (for example) won’t necessarily “save” anybody directly, but in this new horrible world we’re in, think about how many lives will be spared.
go to the clinic and see a doctor, call them, go to Connections Clinic, go to St Pauls, go to Vancouver Native Health Society, go to Downtown Community Health Centre, Pender Community Health Centre, go to REACH Community Health Centre. ask for prescription for your drug of choice (or nearest equivalent) BECAUSE YOU WANT TO STAY HOME TO KEEP OTHERS SAFE. BECAUSE ITS PUBLIC HEALTH.
first, without that script, the chances are very high that you’ll become quite ill with this quite lethal illness, because if you use, you’ll go out to get, transmitting the virus, again and again. a doctor who refuses to prescribe, now, in their last meaningful chance to serve humanity, is a mass murderer, prolonging and abetting this plague.
In reports about the 2019 BC coroners report on illicit drug toxicity events the emphasis has been on the decrease in deaths of about one-third province-wide. However the number of calls for an EMS response to an overdose have gone slightly up. And those calls are an undercount of events, as often overdoses are responded to without a 911 call.
But, fewer deaths. 981. 19 per 100,000. 5,010 since 2016.
why? how? yes, harm reduction is in effect. In December 2016 the BC Health Minister Terry Lake signed a order authorizing overdose prevention services. Of course that’s quite a euphemism: overdoses happen frequently. But someone had eyes on you and brought you back. Thousands of deaths have been prevented. Would anything be different now if they were called Death Prevention Sites?
Now, there are many such sites, except where people don’t want them, or regional health authorities won’t fund them. Yes, not having that happen is the purpose of declaring a Public Health Emergency.
Another mitigating factor is the non-opiate contamination in the mix: benzodiazepines, cannabinoids, veterinary tranquilizers… a wide range of psychoactive substances in the supply which can produce what Dr. Kendall describes as a “traumatic brain injury that will last a lifetime.” Young people, rendered psychotic by the poison sludge, wander the streets for days or weeks and die in unspeakable ways. These losses are not counted in this report.
This isn’t about fentanyl, and it’s an opioid crisis only at the moment.
The decrease is not due to everyone already being dead. There isn’t a finite pool of users; the pipeline to the coast is open and flowing.
Not Dead Is Not Enough
A brief comparison of the comments made by the province’s leading Health officials and the statement released by the minister of mental health and addictions might be helpful to illustrate where precisely the problem lies.
The coroner’s report, Illicit Drug Toxicity Deaths, is accurately titled, but it’s an enumeration of just that: deaths, rather than catastrophic events. The situation is not actually improving; the supply is continuing to degrade. This is the part of the Coroner’s statement that I stared at intently:
“͞Collectively, we continue to urge for greater access to safe supply for those in our community who are experiencing, and struggling to live with, substance use disorder.”
and noted that it’s not “struggling with substance use” but “struggling to live with substance use.” It’s living that’s the issue here (and disorder is really subjective).
Provincial Public Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry (who submitted a special report to the provincial legislature under the authority of the Public Health Act last March called Stopping The Harm which recommended the decriminalization of people who use drugs and therein thoughtfully provided our elected leaders with several options for doing so, all within their jurisdictional purview – the report was aggressively ignored and its recommendations were never debated in the legislature) stated:
“ And in the meantime, we need to change our approach so that people who use drugs are able to seek help without the fear of being charged criminally and with access to a pharmaceutical alternative, instead of what is clearly a toxic street-drug supply.”
And Dr Perry Kendall, who declared the emergency almost four years ago:
“We must also acknowledge that overdoses are still occurring at an equal or greater rate than ever as a result of the toxic drug supply, posing a significant public health threat that will impact a generation of British Columbians.
Lives are being saved, but saving lives alone is not nearly enough. We must now turn our attention toward implementing strategies to prevent overdoses from occurring in the first place — which must start with a legally regulated drug supply.”
Legally regulated, as if drugs were pop or lettuce or ridesharing or busking or banking or housing. OR DRUGS. Here’s the problem we seem to be encountering:
We know how to do this. Stop saying that individuals need help with their problems when our problem is a political massacre a generation in the making, driven by a century of prohibition. And rather than recognizing our collective moral imperative to address it directly, people complain that the corpses are bad for business.
Minister of Mental Health & Addictions, Judy Darcy:
“I want to extend my deepest gratitude to first responders, peers, families, health-care professionals and community workers who are dealing with the deeply emotional toll of doing everything they can to save lives and connect people to care time and time again. Our province owes you a debt we can never repay.
“The way we act and speak can make a life-changing difference for someone who is living with addiction, to find a pathway to hope and to healing. We cannot afford to stop caring. It really will take all hands on deck to stem this terrible tide and reduce the stigma that leads to so many people using and dying alone.
“As we look to the year ahead, we will continue to work closely with and listen to the valuable advice of our partners, including people with lived experience to save lives and build a better, more connected continuum of care options for people living with addiction.”
Two separate issues are being avoided interchangeably here – individual struggles shouldn’t be confused with the tide of death, and the solutions are distinct. The solutions for the second thing are safe supply, decriminalizing the person, restructuring social assistance into guaranteed income, and rapidly expanding public housing.
This deathspiral was not your creation, but it’s your responsibility now.
canadian drug war year in review: IT’S GOING GREAT
850,000~ hours is a lot of hours!
it was not a huge waste of time why would you say that
we were getting the druuuugs off the street and really thats the point of public safety
yeah a crisis
so these “prosecutions” were economic interventions in an unregulated market which besides depriving people of their liberty accelerated the contamination of the drug supply, an entirely predictable consequence
Thats what the law is for WOW THATS A LOT OF DEAD PEOPLE
no one said it was. this is a political massacre and its your policy. one change wont end this.
this is Canada’s drug war and its become part of this place. its colonial violence. its racist to the core. this part of the marketplace is a specifically illegal capitalism and its used to scare people into obedient capitalism, stealing from the dispossessed. as you do.
Amid the creeping gentrification that is transforming our neighbourhood and making it even more difficult to live, the ‘mall’ on Hastings that runs from Pigeon Park at Carrall to Main (or Columbia, depending on your opinion) is one of the nerve centres of our community. These are Our Streets.
It is one of the places where we make our own rules and do our thing. Yeah, some of us use drugs, and we buy them on the street. We also meet our friends, go to United we Can, watch the world go by.
What’s crucial is how out of the ordinary this is. I get out of the neighbourhood a couple times a month, and I’m consistently unnerved by the conspicuous lack of people, the lack of conversation, the lack of difference in other parts of Vancouver. It’s kind of creepy. In this painting, I tried to create the atmosphere of the street without the people. As you look at it, I bet your mind and imagination fill in the people. But this is what some people want, all of us in our rooms and not filling the streets with our spirit and beauty. This is what we must fight to prevent, and keep these streets ours.