(letters teaser)

The callous politics of a serious social issue

To the Editor,

I found it rather rich for the conservative BC Liberal’s official critic for mental health and addictions to chastise the NDP government not long ago for being too slow in acting on B.C.’s rising drug-overdose death count.

Before Trevor Halford (Surrey-White Rock) accuses anyone of inaction on this most serious issue, he should consider his own party’s slow-to-properly-respond performance as a government dealing with the opioid crisis. Though I’ve not been personally affected by the addiction/overdose crisis, I have suffered enough unrelenting hyper-anxiety to have known and enjoyed the blissful release upon consuming alcohol and/or THC.

I also understand the callous politics involved with this most serious social issue: Just government talk about increasing funding to make proper treatment available to low- and no-income addicts, however much it would alleviate their great suffering, generates firm opposition by the general socially and fiscally conservative electorate.

The reaction is largely due to the preconceived notion that drug addicts are but weak-willed and/or have somehow committed a moral crime. (Seemingly forgotten is how pharmaceutical corporations intentionally pushed their very addictive and profitable opiates but sustained relatively light consequences for doing so via civil litigation.)

Ignored is that such intense addiction usually does not originate from a bout of boredom, in which a person repeatedly consumed recreationally but became heavily hooked on an unregulated, often-deadly chemical that eventually destroyed their life and even that of a very caring loved-one. Rather, it likely resulted from his/her attempt at silencing through self-medicating the pain of serious life trauma or PTSD.

I find that in this world a large number of people, however precious their lives, can be considered disposable. Then those people may begin perceiving themselves as worthless and consume their addictive substances more haphazardly. Although the cruel devaluation of them as human beings is basically based on their chronic self-medicating, it still reminds me of the devaluation, albeit perhaps subconsciously, of the daily civilian lives lost (a.k.a. “casualties”) in protractedly devastating civil war zones and sieges.

At some point, they can end up receiving a meagre couple of column inches in the First World’s daily news.

Frank Sterle Jr.

White Rock, B.C.

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