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LETTER: Stigma not the answer to toxic drug crisis

During the first half of 2022, there were at least 1,095 lives lost in B.C.

To the Editor,

During the first half of 2022, there were at least 1,095 lives lost in B.C. from toxic drug overdoses, and more than 10,000 such deaths since April of 2016.

Many, if not most, substance users resort to reducing or temporarily eliminating their immense stress through chemical means. Often societally overlooked is that intense addiction usually doesn’t originate from a bout of boredom.

Either way, neglecting people dealing with debilitating drug addiction should never have been an acceptable or preferable political option. But the callous politics typically involved with addiction funding and services likely reflect conservative electorate opposition, however irrational, towards making proper treatment available to low- and no-income addicts.

Tragically and appallingly, it’s as though some people—however precious their souls—can be considered disposable. Even to an otherwise democratic and relatively civilized nation, their worth is measured basically by their sober “productivity” or lack thereof. Those people may then begin perceiving themselves as worthless and accordingly live their daily lives more haphazardly.

I once was one of those who, while sympathetic, would look down on those who had “allowed” themselves to become addicted to alcohol and/or illicit “hard” drugs.

However, upon learning that serious life trauma, notably adverse childhood experiences, is very often behind the debilitating addiction, I began to understand ball-and-chain self-medicating: the greater the drug-induced euphoria or escape one attains from its use, the more one wants to repeat the experience; and the more intolerable one finds their sober reality, the more pleasurable that escape should be perceived.

The preconceived erroneous notion that drug addicts are simply weak-willed or have committed a moral crime is, fortunately, gradually diminishing.

Frank Sterle Jr.,

White Ro​ck, B.C.