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

UPDATE: Construction on Hwy. 4 halted after tree crashes into traffic

Trees are being cleared along the highway between Port Alberni and the Tofino-Ucluelet junction.

115 new wildfires burning across B.C. due to 19,000 lightning strikes

More fires expected to start today, says BC Wildfire Service officials

Find your groove with hand drums in Port Alberni

Nanaimo-based trio will be holding drumming workshop and concert

Alberni Senior Men’s Floor Hockey League reunites

Port Alberni has always been a hockey town, even when there was no ice

Heat wave hits Port Alberni

Open fires prohibited in Coastal Fire Region

Port Alberni celebrates National Aboriginal Day

Events took place on Thursday, June 21

Rescued Oregon family simply unprepared for adventure, RCMP say

Agencies now helping the group of four get to their destination in Alaska

Large B.C. tree dies after possible poisoning

Police and District investigate after large chestnut tree’s rapid decline

Canucks release 2018-19 season schedule

Vancouver to face Calgary Flames on Wednesday, Oct. 3, for home opener

VIDEO: Luxury Home and Design Show opens with Italian flare

Event set to run Friday to Sunday at BC Place in Vancouver

Small new charge on BC Hydro bills goes toward new crisis fund

The new fund aims to help customers who find themselves in financial emergencies

UPDATED: Crown appeals B.C. polygamous leader’s acquittal in child bride case

James Oler had been charged with taking his underage daughter to the U.S. to marry her off

Fake cops ‘arrest’ woman, steal $6,000 in latest CRA scam

Vancouver police urge people not take calls from anyone saying they’re from the Canada Revenue Agency

Study shows increase in mountain bike tourism in B.C.

Numbers are up, way up, for bike-related visits to the province

Most Read