The US reached a stark milestone this month of 100,000 people dying of drug overdoses in one year. That is 275 overdose deaths every day. In Canada, 20 people die every day from overdose. It is considered immoral in some circles to demand anything from an addict; this helps neither the addict or the city.
In Michael Shellenberger’s book, San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities, he writes that by labeling the problem homelessness rather than open-air drug scenes you neglect the fundamental problem which is lack of a system and planned strategy for helping people off the streets. The homeless have a life on the streets high on meth, shooting heroin and smoking fentanyl. No one can coerce them into getting treatment because they don’t want treatment, and public intoxication isn’t a crime anymore because they don’t want addicts in jail.
Public officials are finding out quickly that ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away. Shelters have rules and cities should have rules too. If people can’t subscribe to some basic rules to help themselves, they need intervention.
Addiction is a huge and growing problem. Several factors such as covid have contributed to worsening overdose crisis, including increasing toxic drug supply, increased feelings of isolation, stress and anxiety and lack of accessibility to services for people who use drugs. The opioid and addiction crisis are also partially caused by doctors pulling back on prescribing oxy for pain medication and people turning to the street for fentanyl. I am sure there are good intentions across the board when it comes to helping the homeless but are we lifting people off the streets or is the problem getting worse?
In places like Japan, Amsterdam, and Germany they have compassionate responses, but they all use discipline in dealing with mental illness and addiction. Addicts need a chance to improve their life, choices that allow them to do it and consequences for bad behaviour.
Hanging onto the hope that one day you might help the addict get clean by giving them an apartment they can magically afford is just pushing the problem down the road and an excuse for letting more people die. We have patently mediocre officials grappling with half measures on how to fix a decentralized system of government that doesn’t have the capacity to deal with the increasing demands of poverty and all the social issues that come with it. It all feels kind of hopeless and sad and no one seems to be coming up with any solutions.
Am I the Only One?
The opinions stated in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hometown News’ management, staff or writers.