The safe drug supply initiative sounds like an important addition to B.C.’s other harm reduction programs, including safe injection sites, emergency medical services, counselling and detox facilities.
Yet, as an addiction counsellor in Vancouver recently pointed out, harm reduction will never be enough if we continue to overlook harm elimination; providing addicts with the treatment they require to wean themselves of their addiction.
As things stand, government treatment programs have long waiting lists, while private facilities charge between $8,000 and $25,000 for a 30-day program; hardly within the reach of any street addict.
As a local homeless man wrote a few days before he died, “I need treatment, and it doesn’t exist for me.”
What does it say about us as a society that we see nothing wrong in Canada’s wealthiest family accumulating assets totalling over $40 billion, or that we gift billions of taxpayer dollars to multinational corporations to produce LNG, but fail to provide treatment placements for otherwise doomed addicts?
Harm reduction is an essential, stop gap measure, but we shouldn’t let that distract us from the greater need for treatment placements for addicts seeking to reclaim their lives.