LETTER: Maple Ridge man says treatment centers needed to handle drug crisis

Dear Editor,

Re: [2.5-gram threshold for decriminalized drugs ‘a floor not a ceiling,’ B.C. minister pledges, mapleridgenews.com, June 2]

In terms of increasing the permitted amount of illicit drug possession to 2.5 grams, I don’t think that will actually have an impact on the overdose crisis and I actually don’t see it as having a positive impact on reducing the number of overdose deaths.

The government sees this as a crucial step in reducing the shame and fear associated with substance use, but as Mo Korchinski, executive director of Unlocking the Gates Services Society and advisor to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, it will not really change the number and type of arrests made for simple possession of illicit drugs.

Statistics show that the police do not actively try to arrest people with small amounts of narcotics, as Korchinski mentions. Only about 3.8% of arrests are made for simple possession only, with the vast majority of arrests being made when apprehended for another offense (usually robbery or assault) and carrying illegal drugs.

I’ve also seen people injecting drugs in plain sight during the day (not only in Maple Ridge, but also in other towns in the Lower Mainland), and there’s no police presence around this kind of activity. It’s a complicated scenario, and it’s very likely that the police will not actively pursue arrests for simple possession of small amounts of illicit drugs, as they view this with the current perspective that addiction is more of a medical problem than a criminal problem.

Another concern with the permitted increase to 2.5g is that it could prove fatal for someone in possession of 2.5g of fentanyl. And with advocates calling for an exemption of up to 4.5g, that would be very dangerous for someone with that much fentanyl considering using it at the same time, as Korchinski correctly mentions.

With the issue of safe supply, there are areas in Vancouver and Surrey where individuals can use under the supervision of a nurse or other healthcare worker, and they can receive Narcan immediately in the event of an overdose. .

There are many such places (supervised injection sites at In-Site as well as many safe injection rooms in the multitude of shelters), but there will always be those who choose to use their own drug supply. (although it may be dangerous) with safe power available.

I’ve been working in the mental health and addictions field since 2013 and the only lasting solution I foresee is to build more detox and treatment facilities (also mentioned by Korchinski).

This is the path to recovery and to getting addicts to abstain completely. It is also the way to dramatically reduce the opioid crisis and resulting deaths, and allow families to live normal, peaceful lives free from drug use.

I propose that the provincial government fully fund a new, state-of-the-art, modern treatment center in Maple Ridge.

It should be large enough to meet the current needs of the people of Maple Ridge, and the use of the beds would be a priority for those who live in Maple Ridge. The treatment center would also use surrounding community supports to help clients adjust and maintain abstinence after completing treatment. The center would also have accredited nurses, doctors and counselors available during their treatment, while using the best practices in the field of addiction recovery.

I also ask that the province fund the center in perpetuity so that the center is never closed or reduced due to lack of funding.

I ask those who agree with this to please sign my petition on my Facebook page or via change.org.

Chris O’Brian, Maple Ridge

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• READ MORE: For decriminalization to save lives, users must be allowed to carry more drugs: BC advocates

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Letter to the editorstreet drugs


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