Addiction is a reflection of physical, psychological, and emotional health. People suffering from pain deserve treatment, dignity, and respect.
The Overdose Crisis is a direct result of the War on Drugs, growing and extreme wealth disparity, the criminalization of poverty, and institutional racism. We will never solve The Overdose Crisis by treating substance use as a crime. Rather, we need to understand the roots of substance use and address those issues specifically. Substance use may be someone’s only tool for surviving the otherwise intolerable; self-medication for trauma, stress, depression, homelessness, anxiety, abuse, childhood trauma from neglect and abuse, acute and chronic pain, PTSD, mental health conditions, or irritating neurodivergent stimulus processing, among many other possibilities. It is beyond cruel to criminalize and prosecute people seeking treatment for pain and suffering.
We can save lives, radically reduce crime, and infinitely improve the quality of life for everyone – not just substance users – with a holistic approach:
Housing for Everyone.
Housing is a basic human right. Everyone in our province deserves and must be provided with a home that meets their individual needs, including accessibility, affordability, safety, special services, and appropriateness for community, family-size, and culture.
Healing of any kind cannot start until a person is safe & secure. If you do not have a home, are precariously housed, or are otherwise at-risk for losing your home, it is more difficult to address any needs beyond day-to-day survival.
Lastly, not only is housing everyone the only moral thing to do, research has shown that it is more cost-effective to house everyone than to manage the crisis of homelessness.
Complete Universal Healthcare
Healthcare is a provincial mandate. Universal healthcare was born in Saskatchewan. We would not have it throughout Canada today if one province hadn’t taken that first, controversial step. It’s well past time for another province to complete that vision.
We need to expand universal healthcare as we know it today to include:
Calling the epidemic of death striking the substance use community an “Overdose Crisis” is in many ways a misnomer. It is more accurately termed a “Poisoned Drug Supply Crisis”. Because many – though not all – of these substances are illegal, it is often necessary for substance users to purchase their supplies on the black market. There is no regulatory control and it is difficult to know exactly what you are purchasing in terms of strength and safety. In short, you could be buying a poison dose and not know it. A lack of safe supply is what is killing people.
The BC Ecosocialists will:
- Establish safe consumption sites in every community. Safe consumption sites allow substance users to access safe supplies and services and ensures that they are not consuming alone. Most people who die from consuming a toxic dose die because there isn’t anyone around to help them.
Dispense safe supplies of substances at safe consumption sites, pharmacies, and other dispensaries.
- Safe supply almost entirely eliminates the chance of adverse side effects, including overdose.
- The stigma attached to substance use conjures up images of the people living in poverty in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, but a large percentage of people who die from poisoned substances are “hidden users”, people who live a working- or middle- class lifestyle and who are successfully hiding their substance use from family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues.
- Due to the stigma of drug use, these hidden users are unlikely to ask for help, and if they die, their families choose not to disclose what caused their death. Allowing these hidden users to privately access a safe supply at their neighbourhood pharmacy would dramatically reduce their chances of consuming a poison dose.
- Legalize possession for personal use. We cannot begin to eliminate the stigma associated with substance use if possession remains a crime. If we do not eliminate the stigma, it is impossible to help hidden substance users who risk losing everything if their substance use is exposed.
Once everyone is safe and secure, once everyone can fully access a complete universal healthcare system that does not stigmatize against pain control for people with chronic and acute pain and recognizes and supports the needs of people with mental health differences, and once a safe supply has eliminated the threat of poisoning, we can focus on helping people to heal their mental, emotional, and psychological pain and trauma, reducing the need to self-medicate and eventually making substance use primarily social, cultural, and recreational, as is seen with alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and marijuana use today.
- Understanding that everyone heals at their own pace.
- Eliminating waiting lists for services and support.
- Creating & staffing culturally appropriate rehabilitation centres.
- Ensuring therapists & peer counsellors are accessible and available. These services must be available in the communities and neighbourhoods where people already live.
Eliminating stigma & encouraging understanding.
- Zero tolerance for racism in healthcare.
- Retraining of healthcare professionals to eliminate racism and stigma, particularly addressing the established propaganda and myths that run contrary to scientific research into substance use.
- Immediately stop prosecution of drug offenses in provincial courts and defund the police and Attorney General’s ministry in regards to policing and prosecuting drug offenses.
- Immediately release from provincial prisons every person convicted of drug possession offenses, with support in returning to their communities.
- Immediately release from provincial prisons every person convicted of drug offenses related to marijuana, with support in returning to their communities.
- Fine or sue media and social media that spread dangerous and stigmatizing myths about substance use that is counter to modern scientific and medical research.