LETTER: Addiction is a health issue, not a crime

Research clearly shows that the underlying causes of addiction are not the drugs themselves…

To the Editor,

In your Nov. 8 and 15 editions letter writers Bill Randles and Mike Wright, respectively, criticize the legal system for releasing repeat offenders, many of whom are drug addicts.

Wright correctly complains about the wasted resources this causes. However, his solution calls for more of the same law enforcement and prohibition policies that not only fail to solve the problem, but make it worse.

Randles identifies one of the solutions to the problem, supplying users with free heroin, but unreasonably rejects it as an option.

Research clearly shows that the underlying causes of addiction are not the drugs themselves, but complex social issues such as childhood trauma, pain, loneliness, poverty and homelessness.

Switzerland once had an opioid crisis as bad as BC’s. They solved the problem by legalizing heroin for addicts and providing them extensive social supports to help them improve their lives. Research programs in Vancouver have had the same results.

Approaches based on stereotyping, shaming and stigmatizing addicts do not work. Neither does treating addiction as a moral or legal issue. Addiction is a health issue, which is why relying on the police and the courts to solve this problem will never work.

Perry Bulwer,

Port Alberni

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