To the editor,
People are in danger due to a small percentage of people experiencing mental illness who are being violent and harming others and themselves.
Something needs to be done by all levels of government to take the strain off first-line responders and hospital emergency departments. When their time is spent dealing with so many people with mental health issues and drug addiction it puts a strain on all of the systems to cope. Surely if there is an epidemic of such proportons it only makes sense to take some measures to provide adequate medical care and housing with supports in place for them. We also need to do as much as we can to keep the public at large safe to go about their daily business without undue risk of being harmed.
A very good first step to dealing with the drug addiction problem and deaths in B.C. would be to decriminalize the personal consumption of illegal drugs. Many more treatment beds and long-term support need to be put in place to help these people, many of whom have an underlying mental health issue. Portugal is an excellent example where this has worked exceptionally well and could serve as a model for Canada. Yes it does mean that some addicts that are not able to be rehabilitated will need to be prescribed these drugs, but they are only a small percentage of drug users.
If three people a day were dying of any treatable illness other than drug addiction, there would be a huge outcry and demands for help and treatment for whatever it is. Interestingly most drug addicts are not young people, the majority are not homeless and on the street. They are average ordinary people, your parent, friend, sibling or child. You may work with them. They may have lost their job or had personal issues that they sought relief from.
Compassion, caring and most of all the right kind of help are needed.
Dinah Franklin, Nanaimo
The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us or contribute to the discussion below.