April 20th, 2018

Enabling addictions isn’t the solution

By Lethbridge Herald on November 17, 2017.

Al Beeber

Lethbridge Herald


I don’t believe in political correctness, I don’t believe in extremism, I believe in fairness. And I agree with the editorial in Wednesday’s Herald — inspired by an email I sent to staff about World Diabetes Day on Tuesday — “if money can be found to provide safe drug supplies and safe injection sites for drug users, why can’t money be made available to people who are dealing with a problem they didn’t choose.”
Nine years ago, we had to convince our child as he fought the battle of his young life after being diagnosed with diabetes that he wasn’t going to die before he had a chance to even experience life. Dylan was in Grade 9, and had his world turned upside down one May afternoon— my birthday no less — when he ended up in intensive care after a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis.
Any parent who has had to deal with a child fearing for his or her life goes through an indescribable living hell that nobody can understand until that situation happens to themselves.
My child didn’t choose to be a diabetic, he didn’t choose to live the rest of his life using needles and needing insulin to stay alive. But he has that life, and even with health care coverage, it’s expensive. At 25, he’s healthy and living life on his own terms but the spectre of diabetes is always looming.
People don’t choose to become addicts either, but those who inject the heroin, snort the cocaine or drink from the whiskey bottle to escape their personal demons make a choice to do so. And it’s a choice they don’t have to make.
I know the toll addiction takes on life. Alcoholism and mental illness have been rampant for generations on both sides of my family.
I grew up in a home with alcoholism, with mental illness and instability, a home where one parent was regularly attempting suicide. I often slept in my parents’ car or my own when I got one to have peace so I could focus on school the next morning. I hid knives and razors, watered down booze bottles and from Grade 5 to graduation, seldom experienced any sense of security at home.
It was a nightmare, one which is no less horrific because of a person’s race, income or religion. Alcoholism and addiction do not discriminate and the toll they take is equally horrific on all victims.
But people have a choice to make when dealing with both. I chose after bandaging a parent’s bleeding wrists when I was 10 to take a different path. I chose to survive and try to thrive. I chose not to stay in the gutter.
Everyone with the capacity to think can make the same choice. For addictions and mental illness, help is available if people make a choice to ask for it.
Diabetics don’t have that choice. Their disease, like addiction, doesn’t discriminate but those who have diabetes pay for their supplies while society, through its enablers and apologists, makes excuses for — and accommodates on the taxpayers’ backs — those who make the wrong choices.
We see the result of that everywhere — needles littering streets, parks, doorways and alleys, prostitutes hassling people on street corners and drug dealers in plain sight supplying their customers. I’ve been working downtown for 30 years and I often don’t feel safe anymore walking down the streets. And safe injection sites aren’t the answer because every doorway, alley, nook and cranny downtown is a safe site. Except for the productive people of society who work and live there.
Providing needles and injection sites isn’t the answer to this problem. We need to take back our streets, our parks and our neighbourhoods and that won’t happen when we keep enabling people who have the capacity to make choices. The way to do it is to get off the street those worthless drug dealers supplying the crap that feeds the addictions. And that means we need more police, not more excuses.
I know the extreme left will go ballistic when they read this but like the flat earth society of the extreme right, they are out of touch with reality. And the reality is the NDP, like its Tory predecessor and soon-to-be-successor, couldn’t lead its way out of a paper bag even with directions to the open end. Supplying needles and injection sites to people who make the wrong choices is a clear validation of that opinion.
I have no sympathy for these people and no respect for their enablers because I’ve been through hell and made the choice to escape, a choice we all have the capacity to make. And if we taxpayers are going to be burdened with the addiction crisis, then we deserve to also have medication paid for those with diseases like diabetes — people who have no choice!
STARS AND THUNDER: Ron Sakamoto tells me the music and fireworks festival he helped produce in Timmins, Ont. is a go again for 2018. The event runs June 25 to July 1 and tickets are now on sale at http://www.starsandthunder.com. Sakamoto is lining up an impressive group of musicians for the program including headliner Bryan Adams, along with Burton Cummings, Colin James, Blue Rodeo, High Valley, Sloan, Gord Bamford and more.
Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter.



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