Several community partners and organizations set up at an August event to raise awareness over the opioid crisis. (The News files)

Several community partners and organizations set up at an August event to raise awareness over the opioid crisis. (The News files)

LETTER: Maple Ridge resident argues community needs better overdose amenities

A local letter writer is crititcal of the minister responsible for dealing with the opioid crisis

Dear Editor,

Re: [Toxic drugs take lethal toll, The News, Friday Dec. 17]

Although Minister Sheila Malcolmson is heartbroken over the number of deaths due to drug toxicity, her appeal “to anyone planning to use” shows her lack of awareness of how people who use substances actually live. Her advice would be valid in an ideal world, but addiction is far from ideal.

Especially telling is the advice “find an overdose prevention or safe consumption site near by.” Supervised injections sites such as Insite do not exist in Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows. The closest are either in New Westminster or Surrey, and of course the Downtown Eastside – travelling distances that are very unrealistic.

So at this time of year, those who use substances, often the homeless, find an area somewhat sheltered from the weather and often “overdose” curled up in a corner of a covered parking lot, after sleeping under cardboard during the night. Naloxone might revive, the ambulance will be called, the police and fire department may attend, the emergency department at RMH might admit. But this cycle will be repeated.

A supervised consumption site can remedy this constant use of resources and most importantly prevent deaths.

Addiction is not going away.

It will not pack up and leave Maple Ridge.

Stigmatizing and bullying those who use substances is not a solution.

Realistic solutions, such as supervised consumption sites, to real life situations are what’s needed.

Debbie Picco, Maple Ridge

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• READ MORE: Governments not dealing effectively with the overdose crisis

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