December 3rd, 2020

Crisis needs thoughtful conversations


By Letter to the Editor on October 31, 2020.

In response to the news story “Group opposed to LOPS makes its voice heard,” a number of years ago, after the untimely death of my son to fentanyl poisoning, I joined MSTH.

As an advocate of this group, I have attended the LOPS as a volunteer. I bring homemade food, water and warm clothing to help take the edge off of the cold for people sleeping outside while warm buildings surround them with locks on the doors. My son spent such nights. I write to not dispute the falsehoods in the article. I write as a concerned citizen well aware of how we are being affected by a capitalistic society bent on continually putting wedges between us.

We continue to fight, to disagree on what is right and wrong while the greed for a few fuels our disputes. As long as we remain in fight mode, the challenges of how we can support our most affected citizens will grow exponentially. Thoughtful conversations, not yelling, name calling, spitting, arresting, are needed. I, for one, will continue to be kind. Some will not agree we are doing the right thing; however, my actions do not keep me awake at night; how to rid the world of cruelty, racism and capitalism does.

Kym Porter

Medicine Hat

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Dennis Bremner

I have yet to find a person who bashes capitalism move to a Socialist country. It would appear as long as you are living off the capitalistic teat, you feel socialism is a better answer, unless of course it means you starve at the same rate as your “comrades”!
So in your amazing understanding of addiction to which you say you lost your son too, did it ever and I mean EVER occur to you that people like yourself prevented your son from reaching rock bottom?
You do realize that the “Guru’s of Addiction” insist an addict has to hit this “Rock Bottom” before he/she will decide to rehab, right? So what are you doing? Well it would appear, between you and your fellow comrades, that you enjoy interfering with the addict reaching rock bottom, so you are supporting continued suffering!
So lets see, fresh clean clothes, food three times a day, lodgings, coffee and soup in the middle of the night, hotels when it gets really cold etc etc. See any rock bottoms in that descriptor?
So are you doing this for yourself because you can’t bare the thoughts of capitalism and have decided you know better than a medical community who insists rock bottom and desperation are what is needed for an addict to quit?
So you prance out to LOPS to assist an addict and prevent him/her from reaching the rock bottom that is absolutely needed? Sounds like you are looking for redemption because you sure are not helping addicts quit.
Ever wonder why DTES Vancouver gets worse every year? Ever wonder why the areas without SCSs or ANY assistance to addicts at all seem to do just fine? Ever wonder why the Medical Society does not have an independent study done of cities that offer literally nothing to addicts and compare death and/or rehab rates to the ones that do? Addicts die from bad drugs or prolonged usage, but offering NO help seems to be far more successful in achieving the rock bottom everyone insists must occur. Losing your son was a terrible thing, but I thought you would have learned something from it. Are you doing this for them or for yourself?

Last edited 1 month ago by Dennis Bremner
lortho

I agree with Kym Porter that the actions of the protesters are not accomplishing anything. In fact they are doing harm. I have witnessed their swearing, spitting, and violation of personal property and heard their uninformed statements. Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Site ( LOPS) does not “enable drug use”, but was created in response to the irresponsible closure of the Lethbridge Supervised Consumption Site by the UCP government. In the absence of that SCS people needed a place where harm reduction workers can administer naloxone and provide information about social services. It is important to note the Overdose death rate is skyrocketing during the pandemic (3 ppl die in AB every day). The rates in the South Zone are the worst in the province. Drug use will happen when people lack housing, living wages, mental health & trauma supports. Drug use will happen when people face systemic racism & discrimination
There are NOT more people using drugs because of the LOPS. There are more people using alone and dying alone because of a tainted drug supply, and the isolation occurring because of Covid-19. While an OPS does not increase use, it decreases death.
The protesters call for “arrests”, while Canada’s Chiefs of Police call for a health approach instead of criminalization of people who use drugs.Reversing an overdose and saving a life is not illegal and is protected under the Good Samaritan Overdose Act. I wish the LOPS all the best in their heroic efforts to save lives. And to the protesters I welcome them to bring warm clothing, snacks and water rather than foul mouths and hateful attitudes.

Dennis Bremner

So you also do not believe an addict has to reach rock bottom before wanting to rehab? You also believe creating a better life for a drug addict, while remaining a drug addict is better than the shortterm suffering an addict has to go through to reach the rock bottom and rehabbing, everyone refers to?
Strange, very very strange!

Apparent unintentional poisoning deaths related to non-fentanyl opioids
• In the second quarter of 2020, there were 17 apparent unintentional poisoning deaths related to an opioid other than fentanyl in Alberta. By comparison, there were 18 of these deaths in the first quarter of 2020.
• In the first six months of 2020, 23 per cent of non-fentanyl opioid-related deaths occurred in larger urban municipalities (Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat).
• In the second quarter of 2020, the Edmonton Zones (6) had the highest number of these deaths. In the first six months of 2020, the South Zone had the highest rate at 3.9 per 100,000 person years, compared to a provincial average of 1.6 per 100,000 person years. 

South Zone includes Medicine Hat and Lethbridge +surrounding areas
2nd Quarter deaths across the province was also when the SCS in Lethbridge was open. It was as indicated on Page 9 an anomaly on average deaths brought on ACROSS the entire country, not just Alberta
https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/f4b74c38-88cb-41ed-aa6f-32db93c7c391/resource/e8c44bab-900a-4af4-905a-8b3ef84ebe5f/download/health-alberta-covid-19-opioid-response-surveillance-report-2020-q2.pdf

So I am unsure exactly what your argument is, bad drugs due to border closures, SCS was open and did not stop the deaths? Now you insist that now because its closed there will be more deaths? Thats not data thats fear mongering! Wait for last half 2020 and we can discuss

Last edited 1 month ago by Dennis Bremner
Dennis Bremner

There were 36 deaths in Q1 and Q2 in the “South Zone”.
Q2 ended end June 2020, the Lethbridge SCS closed End of September 2020
So because you blame the deaths on a Closed SCS, (which is a lie) can I assume you will allow me the opportunity to suggest if deaths have dropped for Q3&Q4 it was because the SCS was closed? Isn’t data a real b*tch?
This will be the first time the data between a city with an SCS vs without one can be accumulated. People like yourself used the data of NO SCS to create one. Now we get the data of having an SCS and 36 lives lost and compare it to two following quarters where WE can say they were closed. What will happen if the numbers drop? They won’t count is my bet, as you will site the very “36” number you are using against Lethbridge and the UCP approach, it will then be suddenly sited as an anomaly and you will want “average deaths used if its to your advantage, why? Because you people never give up and let an addict hit the rock bottom he/she needs too! You prefer to extend their pain and enable.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dennis Bremner
HaroldP

Kym Porter is forgetting one key point, the POP UP TENTS are illegal! There are wrap around services, including a AHS approved injection site in Lethbridge. What the POP UP TENTS are doing is encouraging the illegal and extremely dangerous usage of illegal drugs in our public parks. This is a deplorable situation and is definitely NOT helping Lethbridge in emerging from our # 1 spot in the annual Crime Severity Index ratings.

Lori Hatfield

Today, with the current poisoned drug supply, “hitting rock bottom” now means death. In a world that has an abundance of evidenced-based knowledge from all walks of life (experts and people with lived experience) we have the know how to assist people who use drugs. The concept of “hitting rock bottom” and “tough love” are not only archaic but dangerous attitudes and do nothing to help people living with addiction.
My son has been living with addiction for the past 13 years. I did the “tough love” thing and I waited for him to “hit rock bottom” and I went through hell alongside with him. I saw, either on my own or with my son, numerous counsellors and I heard every recommendation under the sun.
What didn’t sit well with me were those two concepts – tough love and hitting rock bottom. I don’t care how old he was, he was my child and for a mother to turn her back on her own flesh and blood – that is a feeling I never want to experience again in my life. Let me refer you to the well known adage “listen to your gut, if it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t”.
The last councilor I ended up seeing was at Alberta Mental Health & Addiction. She was a game-changer! I learnt about boundaries, I learnt that I could still have a relationship with my son, that loving him and keeping him in my life was okay. I just needed to have boundaries and he needed to know what they were.
Did I give him a meal, offer him a bed, get him clothes, let him have a shower ~ absolutely! Did I treat him humanely and with respect and dignity ~ most certainly! Did I encourage a relationship where we could be open and honest with each other and discuss his addiction without me demanding he do what I wanted him to do – definitely and this is what changed everything!
My son is in now in recovery. I have and will continue to advocate on his behalf and anyone else that is living with addiction. I stand beside him, proud of him, whether he is in recovery or active addiction (as we know relapse is a part of recovery).
I have walked alongside him and have witnessed first-hand the broken systems, barriers and hurdles that have to be jumped through to access help – they are overwhelming and unmanageable. If I have tremendous difficulty trying to reach service outcomes to obtain help, I can’t image how difficult it is for someone in active addiction – when that window of opportunity opens where somebody wants to make a change in their life and they hear that there may be an opening in a few days, or a week or maybe a month and they know that in a few hours they are going to be sick and they could feel better in a minute, do you honestly believe that they are going to think “well I can hold out for however long it takes”. That’s just not going to happen. We desperately need services and we need them now! We need good, long-term residential treatment centers, we need transitional housing and long-term housing and we need a full-service supervised consumption site.
Addiction is a very complicated health matter and there are many, many different ways to treat it. We need to offer a variety of options to those people living with addiction as they do not all fit into one box and forcing people or offering people only one option will not work! We cannot discriminate and say you have to be sober that is the only option, especially when it has been proven that people can function in society, hold down jobs, maintain relationships and have families and be like everyone else while still getting daily doses of regulated, prescribed drugs.
Our community members need to stop fighting amongst each other and take all this anger and frustration and push our governments for more services in our city!

nikko

I agree strongly with Kym and Lori. Dennis Bremner and his outdated rhetoric are doing more harm than good. His ideas from 20 plus years ago are by no means facts nor are they in anyway scientific or current with studies of addiction and treatment. Rock bottom is a well known catch phrase that has very little to do with helping a person start a path to recovery. On the other hand treating people with dignity and respect no matter where they are at is the key. Meeting people where they are at is the most important aspect. Connection is what raises self worth and fosters a desire to do better. With today’s toxic drug supply unsupervised use could be that individuals first and last time. Since we know the park is a prime use spot it makes sense to have a safe space in that area. After all people are going to use those drugs anyway. While I’m at it why is supporting harm reduction and recovery and treatment at the same time such a contentious issue for so many. After all if we let them all die who will fill all those treatment beds. Do better Lethbridge! So little compassion for your fellow man here in the Bible Belt.

Dennis Bremner

Rock Bottom is a present day term and is still used to describe the point an addict must reach. This is your system today, not mine from 20 years ago.
Treating people with dignity and respect is something that is earned. It is very difficult to look at statistics that indicate we are number 1 in Canada, for Petty theft and drugs, and offer dignity and respect to the individual who just stole your personal items.
So how about nikko old “buddy” you get the addicts to treat Lethbridge Residents with dignity and respect and we will work on our part!
Start by asking them to appreciate the many donated hours and money to offer them food, clothing and a place to live. Then tell them to stop stealing, mugging people, and deficating, pissing on businesses properties. You do that, and we can discuss this dignity respect thing again!

Last edited 1 month ago by Dennis Bremner
phlushie

It is all good but one thing , it seems few realize, and it comes from an old adage “you can lead a horse to water, but you can not make him drink”. This is where “ROCK BOTTOM” is. The addict is in charge of his own destiny and decides to rehabilitate. Without that decision nothing positive will occur. And as proven by Vancouver DTES, harm reduction only enhances drug addiction as fear of death is removed. The cycle is reinforced.

ewingbt

The SCS was a party palace the attracted people to it and the entrance fee . . . do drugs!
This illegal tent has no direct connections to get addicts the immediate help they need and if you cannot see that along with the fact it is ILLEGAL . . . then that is why we that know the truth must fight for the people that we ‘personally’ have tatched slowly emaciate and die. I have attended many overdoses and seem some die! I have seen them when they are sober and weeks later called EMS as they lay there overdosing!
At the very least – Google Vancouver DTES and read the Wikipedia information which shows after 17 years of safe injection sites, just in the greater Vancouver DTES of 20,000, they are pumping $360 million per year into over 300 social services and housing programs generated by the addiction issues.
Imagine if all the money . . . billions, would have been pumped into effective treatment and mental health programs, how many lives would have been saved.
The protesters know this and they also know that this tent is not needed and the numbers of users served attest to that fact. It is illegal, and Health Canada Exemptions clearly state the there has to be “AN URGENT NEED”, which there is not! We have our services in place and they are working!
We will never allow this tent or any other in this city that has already paid the price of this mad experiment that has proven to fail miserably in BC!

Dennis Bremner

So Lori, you did what a caring parent should do, you did not rely on society to raise or coddle your child. Rock Bottom is not my thesis on when a junkie seeks treatment, its the systems definition, I am using it.
Rock Bottom is not a polluted drug supply unless of course you believe that all 1664 registered addicts with the Lethbridge SCS when about to do an injection, decide collectively to visit the SCS so as to prevent pending death.
The facts are 1664 registered with the SCS, 130 used it, another 1000+ have not registered, all are using the same sources for drugs, all take the same chance when injecting poison. If one dies, the argument is SCS could have saved him/her, that was NOT the case when the SCS was open they had less than 5% of the total addicts in Lethbridge.
So the statistical data does not support SCS usage, as actual usage does not. The 130 addicts apparently were saved 1000s of times over a month. Yet the remaining 2534 did not die at or near the rate the SCS was saying they were saving the other 130
So its difficult for both sides of this argument, we think the SCS Lethbridge was nothing more than a front for a money making machine. You believe they serve a purpose, we believe they are enablers and allow addicts the opportunity to mix drugs and endanger their own lives, because the SCS takes death off the table. SCSs as the Lethbridge layout was, was nothing more than Party Fix Room of the 1970s. The ONLY difference between what the NDP setup in Alberta as SCSs and what was setup as FIX Rooms in Europe is the Fix Room was run by the drug dealer.
We had a clubhouse for addicts!

Your Group MSTH never answered the statements made by addicts here in Lethbridge, they have said they were shuttled here by MSTH members in Taber and Medicine Hat because you all felt that Lethbridge and Bourgues SCS were the best place for them, have you taken them back to Taber and Medicine Hat?

Last edited 1 month ago by Dennis Bremner
biff

thoughtful letter – unfortunately, compassion is hard to find among those sold on the greatness of capitalism. that woefully conditioned mindset cannot see past themselves; they cannot acknowledge how much of a factor luck played in their good fortunes; they cannot understand that it is a system that creates winners and losers, and the more the winners rake in the greater the degree of losers we end up with; they cannot see capitalism as a system which rewards greed and privilege far more than it does honesty and hard work, which results in misery for far too many, and which results in enormous social costs related to policing and courts and prisons so as to try and sustain a broken system; they cannot see capitalism as an infantile approach to society; they cannot see that capitalism chews up and degrades the planet and human decency in order to sustain itself…no, all we get are the sound bites of maladaptive conditioning: “might not be perfect but it the best system ever” …yeah, right, even as the planet is ruined day over day; “it has led to great technological advances” …as if the human mind would not have come up with these discoveries without capitalism; “the alternative is socialism and communism like the ussr and china”…and yet too dumb to figure out that is lie, that those systems were not even close to egalitarian, and that they are sweet examples of dictatorships and totalitarianism; and, the do not understand that one can have a democratic, free and open egalitarian society, just as easily as you can have a big brother capitalist system, which, by the way, is the road we have been on for quite some time now.
i was hoping to have been done with this site, but a caring letter facing the usual lack of compassion and vision and ignorance was too much to let alone today.

Fescue

Good to see you still in on the good fight with the reactionary radicals 🙂

biff

thank you – i always respect your entries and appreciate all you put out here

Dennis Bremner

poor biff, if only the World Council on the Spread of Socialism would elect you president, all your frustrations would end. I am waiting for Fedup to somehow get Klein or some other dead conservative into this conversation.



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