Alberni Health Report part four: dealing with addictions

In this installment we learn how communities can help those struggling with challenges, and what happens to those who go down a dark path

Our parents raise us. Our schools teach us.

Then it is time for us to go out into the “real world” and fend for ourselves.

Many of us equate success in life with finding a good job and making money.

But in reality, it is the quality of our overall health during our lives that is the key to how happy and how successful we can be.

In this installment of our series on the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s Local Health Area Profile on Alberni and the West Coast, we learn how a healthy community can help support those struggling with mental, physical and emotional challenges, and what happens to those who go down a darker path.

While a segment of the population struggles with health issues related to diseases and chronic health conditions, others adopt unhealthy behaviours that affect their own quality of life.

As VIHA Central Vancouver Island medical health officer Dr. Paul Hasselback points out, “crime rates are often interrelated with addictions and/or a lack of adequate income supports.

Alberni also has more non-cannabis drug offenses (261 per 100,000) than VIHA (127), according to 2011 figures.

“Many people are in a jail or prison setting who could have possibly avoided it if they had been treated for mental illness,” Hasselback explained.

While major crimes tend to be trending downwards—good news for all of us—a significant proportion of reported crimes are related to drug use, production and sale.

Alcohol and drug problems don’t just ruin the lives of addicts. They are known jumping-off points for many serious and petty crimes that plague so many communities.

The 2011 health profile reveals Alberni’s serious crime rate is 16.1 per 1,000, higher than B.C. (13.5) and significantly higher than VIHA (6.5).

Port Alberni RCMP Cpl. Jen Allan said more serious drug offenses here are mainly related to crack and cocaine addiction and trafficking, but added marijuana grow ops are routinely linked to more serious drug offenses and organized crime.

“These can all be linked back to addictions,” Allan said. “From street-level dealers all the way to complex organized crime rings.”

If addiction appears to be a problem for a suspect, police highlight it in their report to Crown to ensure judgment includes conditions such as treatment, curfews and abstaining from illegal substances and/or alcohol.

A key tool police can also employ is a Local Crisis Response Team, a group of professionals who are on-call to visit prisoners in cells. They reach out to people in crisis, at a time when they may be most open to admitting they have a problem.

“This is a huge help,” Allan said. “This isn’t the uniform who maybe wrestled with them in the back lot.”

Experts agree the overall health of this community is key to deterring negative outcomes like addictions and crime.

“The whole of the addictions issue is often related to lack of vitality in a community,” Dr. Hasselback explained.

He added that, “health services tend to get involved when there is already a problem.”

 

Quick Facts:

RESOURCES:

◆ MENTAL HEALTH and Addictions Services: 250-731-1311.

◆ 310MENTAL HEALTH Support Line: 310-6789.

◆ KUU-US CRISIS Society: 250-723-4050. Includes housing assistance.

◆ CRISIS LINE (Vancouver Island): 1-888-494-3888.

◆ PORT ALBERNI Association for  Community Living: 250-724-7155.

◆ ALBERNI COMMUNITY and Women’s Services Society: 250-724-7111.

 

Next week: The cause and effect of a tough economy.

Just Posted

Former teacher returns to Port Alberni to lead Alzheimer’s Walk

Jory Mitchell celebrates his journey with late wife and her Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve issues cougar warning at Kennedy Lake

Cougar encounter reported between Tofino and Ucluelet.

Deadline looming for North Island College scholarship applications

Students have until April 24 to apply for a record number of… Continue reading

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select routes

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries to be sold on Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

Hupacasath First Nation re-elects entire council for new term

Steven Tatoosh takes helm for fifth term as chief, talks economic prosperity for future

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Chaos at the ferry terminal for people heading from Vancouver to the Island

Easter crowds create backlog at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

B.C. RCMP receive application for Police Cat Services

RCMP announced the launch of the Police Cat Services unit as an April fools joke

Kirkland Signature veggie burgers recalled due to possible metal fragments

Recalled products came in 1.7 kg packages with a best before date of Apr. 23, 2019

Parents of 13 who tortured children get life after hearing victims

One of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states

9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia at a moderate risk of severe weather

Private cargo ship brings Easter feast to the space station

There are three Americans two Russians and one Canadian living on the space station

Notre Dame rector: “Computer glitch” possible fire culprit

The fire burned through the lattice of oak beams supporting the monument’s vaulted stone ceiling

Most Read