By laughing at addicts, you are sentencing them to death

More people are dying by drugs and apparently it’s not a concern. Needpix

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when

Well, I hate that I’m back here again. I hate that I’m writing about this again. But I feel as though my hands are really tied with this issue, and that I have no other choice.

To be frank with all of you, I’m really pissed.

This will be the third article I write in 2020 about opioids, and we aren’t even two months into the year. The first was detailing the rising need in Canada and possible solutions. The second was detailing the death of my younger sister, and how I’ve been speaking out in her honour.

Today, I’m here to speak about Saskatchewan, and Regina specifically, because very quickly, everything has become drastically worse.

Over the long weekend, there were 20 overdoses in Regina. Two have been reported as being fatal. This isn’t including the nearly 50 overdoses that have occurred in Regina since 2020 began. Including the overdoses over Family Day weekend alone, the number is now over 60. That equals out to – give or take given the date I’m writing this – over one overdose a day in Regina alone. I’m sure by the time this article is published that number will have risen.

I’ve been sad. I’ve been irritated. I’ve been mourning. Now, I’m really damn angry. Now, I’m demanding that people listen to me.

I have had this debate with almost everyone in my life. The facts are before us and what we need to do as a city, province, and country is plain to see: we need safe injection sites, legalization, harm reduction, and better mental health care services.

At this point, I feel like I’m screaming into the void. I’ve already written about how the Green Party and the New Democratic Party were the only political parties in the federal election that even discussed the opioid crisis, let alone claim that it was a health emergency requiring immediate action.

What’s going to change things now? Should I write a full page spread every time a new person overdoses in the city? If this paper was clustered with articles saying “Hey, there’s been another damn overdose in the city,” is that what it would take for people to realize there’s a problem?

62 overdoses. 62 people. That’s more than a football team. That would almost fill a classroom building lecture hall, and would overflow one of the upper-level classrooms. That’s 62 lives, some of which were lost, in less than two months.

Still don’t see a problem? Well, guess what, it gets worse.

I’m going to go on a personal rant here in hopes that some of you may understand where my frustration lies.

Since I’ve become more vocal about drugs, fentanyl, overdoses, and harm reduction, a lot – and I mean a lot – of people have reached out to me sharing their own stories, whether it be their own personal struggles with drugs, family members who’ve been struggling, friends, relatives, you name it.

I’ve watched these people struggle. I’ve heard their stories. I held their hands and hugged them while they cried. I know how deep this runs. I have been personally touched and changed by so many stories and so many people. And you know what happens when I try to help these people?

I’m laughed at by their loved ones. To my face, I am laughed at. These users are mocked and belittled. Called stupid and worthless. I am laughed at for trying. They call me stupid for even caring, and I’m going be real here, I’m really damn appalled, especially by those who have already suffered through the traumatic toll of drugs.

Apparently, when the problem is right before them, it’s not worth looking into.

Here’s the cold-hard truth that some of you need to realize: by laughing off an addict’s crying for help, you are sentencing them to their death. Straight-up. That includes the Government of Canada for refusing to acknowledge that the opioid epidemic is a public health emergency, leading to it not being taken seriously due to stigma and shame.

When you laugh off an addict, their struggles aren’t being taken seriously. Why they started taking drugs is being ignored. The struggles they faced to get them to that point are blatantly shoved aside.

Because drug abuse is a mental health problem, but people aren’t ready to have that conversation either, it seems.

I’m livid. I’m sick of writing about this because it feels ridiculous that I still have to. I am watching a repeat of what has happened to my younger sister again and again.

By laughing at addicts and turning them away, by refusing to offer support and by refusing to acknowledge the pain that led them there, you are sentencing them to their deaths. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. You are furthering their struggles. Tough love isn’t the answer to addiction: love and compassion are.

I’m sick of watching innocent people die due to tainted drugs and I’m sick of the stigma surrounding it all. I’m sick of watching people who get the warning my family never got – being told about the drug use beforehand – and toss away the chance of being able to help them, for what? Because you’re not taking their use seriously?

If they die, along with millions of other Canadians, then, unfortunately, you will feel like you did.

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