Letter: Treat the addict and the dealer will disappear

Treatment has given once hopeless individuals a new life, hope and a future. Why are we denying these people that hope?

To the editor:

The government says they care about suffering drug addicts, as Stephan Harper stated in an article in Maclean’s magazine about their National Anti-Drug Strategy saying: “This approach will be tough on crime and compassionate for victims. If you’re addicted to drugs, we’ll help you, but if you deal drugs, we’ll punish you.”

The government says they want to clean up the streets, yet they are reluctant to provide services that will deal with the root of most crime and homelessness.

To deal with a toothache some would think that painkillers are the cure, but that is only a temporary relief; therefore, they would need to go get a root canal. The same thing would hold true with the war on drugs, crime and homelessness. Don’t fight the people selling the drugs; help the people doing the drugs. No customers, no money, no business, less production.

If the Canadian government spent more time helping those who are addicted to drugs than fighting those who deal drugs, those who deal drugs would have less people to sell to; therefore, this would reduce the amount of drugs being produced and crimes being committed.

According to the CPHA website, the 2013-2014 budget saw a 49 per cent cut in drug treatment funding. They also make this statement: “These reductions have taken place despite the fact that psychoactive substance use is a major contributor to health care expenditures and costs the Canadian economy over $1.2 billion per year in law and order responses, as well as lost productivity due to mortality, illness and injury.”

Others would argue that drug addicts do not want help. This is quite an ignorant statement; in fact, this would suggest homeless people enjoy living on the streets, and that addicts like being addicted and controlled by the drugs they use.

Almost all homeless people are addicts. I have had the pleasure of talking to addicts who are full of potential, yet they feel they have none. They want more than anything else to stop, but they can’t. They are powerless and don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I know this from my own personal experience as well. We need to illuminate that light for them and give them a fair chance.

An article from the National Institution on Drug Abuse says that in the United States of America, 20.8 million people, ages 12 and older (that’s 8.4 per cent of the population) who needed treatment for drug addiction did not receive it.

I have seen from personal experience that even though a large chunk of people who try treatment, relapse. A large chunk of those who have relapsed will try treatment again because they have been shown that there is a better way. I relapsed over 10 times in the first year I tried to get clean; finally I have been able to stay clean for more than 10 months. I now have hope and a future. If treatment centres were not around who knows where I would be.

I was homeless and a drug addict, I have recovered and am now a productive member of society. The amount of money I was spending on my addiction was substantial. I have witnessed many addicts recover who were spending upwards of $1,000 a day on drugs.

The treatment centre I was at could only hold so many people, and it was always full, that would suggest there are tons of addicts who want help.

The percentage of addicts that recover in treatment is far greater than those who don’t. I can say that in talking to police officers and judges who have dealt with my cases they all agree that they are so happy not to be troubled by my behaviour anymore.

Most crime and homelessness is drug related. Treatment has given once hopeless individuals a new life, hope and a future. Why are we denying these people that hope?

In an article in the Globe and Mail our own Prime Minister says this about its war on drugs: “I think what everyone believes and agrees with, and to be frank, myself, is that the current approach is not working, but it is not clear what we should do.”

Joseph Dube,



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