By Letter to the Editor on December 5, 2017.
It is unfortunate that Al Beeber, and all those who supported his views regarding supervised drug consumption sites through the Roasts & Toasts, did not have the opportunity to attend the excellent presentation by Jill Manning at SACPA, the day prior to Beeber’s article in The Herald on the “Weekend Beat/Entertainment” page, because had they done so, I am sure they would have realized the real need for such a facility in Lethbridge.
Beeber claims that addicts made a wrong choice, so why spend taxpayers’ money to help them out? Does anyone really choose to become an addict, a homeless person, an addicted smoker, an alcoholic, an obese person or a compulsive gambler? All of these addictions cost society and the health system billions of dollars yearly and there are numerous programs funded by taxpayers to try to help them out. It is easy to proclaim that these addicts need to “kick the habit.” How many of you have tried to quit smoking, lose weight, or stop gambling? Not easy for most.
According to Ms. Manning, ARCHES managing director, there are some 3,000 opioid addicts in Lethbridge, many addicted because of doctors prescriptions for painkillers. Approximately 500 are homeless and desperately need a place where they can safely administer their drugs. These are the people who have suffered and are suffering daily, not only due to their addictions, but also due to their homelessness, their mental illnesses, etc. These are our citizens who have hit rock bottom, not by choice but by unfortunate circumstances. The centre will not only provide a safe injection site, but also services such as primary health care and counselling which they desperately need and deserve.
I applaud Ms. Manning and ARCHES, as should everyone else, for their dedication and tireless pursuit of this endeavour. I urge Ms. Manning to repeat her excellent presentation at a venue such as the Public Library so that all those uninformed people who missed her SACPA presentation, such as Mr. Beeber and his “toasters,” have an opportunity to learn what the centre will involve and the immediate need for it in Lethbridge. An open house prior to the launch of the facility would also be in order.
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