EDITORIAL: No easy answers for drug crisis

It’s way too early for governments and non-government organizations to relax

There was some good news out of the report the B.C. Coroners Service released Jan. 31, that overdose deaths declined in the last quarter of 2017 compared to 2016.

There were 99 deaths last December, compared to 164 the previous year. But that’s about all the good news. Overall, 2017 was the deadliest year for overdose deaths B.C. has ever seen, with 1,422 deaths compared to 914 in 2016.

In the majority of those deaths – 81 per cent – the synthetic opioid fentanyl played a part. That’s an increase over 2016 again, when the figure was estimated at 67 per cent. That many deaths makes you question just how much fentanyl is in circulation, and how many other overdoses there were that didn’t result in death, thanks to naloxone or other lifesaving measures.

Overdose deaths have been on the rise since 2008, when there were fewer than 200 deaths. Over the last three years – 2015, 2016 and 2017 – the numbers have climbed dramatically. The downward trend towards the end of last year is positive, even indicative, that current measures are working.

But it’s way too early for governments and non-government organizations to relax. The impact of this crisis is overwhelming and spreads throughout society thanks to years of over-prescribing painkillers, creating addicts in neighbourhoods from the poorest to the richest.

The Coroners Service is quick to point out that no deaths occurred at any supervised consumption site or at any of the drug overdose prevention sites. And while that is significant, it’s not the answer.

Making naloxone kits available is really only a stopgap measure. Any lasting solution to stopping this waste of human life is going to have to take place earlier, and it is going to require a massive co-ordinated effort: reduce the amount of drugs on the street, prevent people from falling into drug abuse in the first place and, especially, make addiction treatment easier to access than the drugs.

Just Posted

Stacked townhouse project gets approval despite traffic concerns

Neighbours say project will increase traffic and problems turning out of seniors’ complex

Fraser Valley pride celebration includes dance and festival

Events held in Abbotsford on July 19 and 20

Free summer concert series celebrates Fraser Valley indie music

Two more performances left in Jam in Jubilee in Abbotsford

Getting a new ‘Gig’ easier with new innovative program in Chilliwack

Program will take 12 young adults and help them prepare for their career path

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

Most Read