A Letter to the SCS Review Board Hearing in Lethbridge AB -
Lori Hatfield, September 4, 2019
As a mother of a son struggling with addiction (going on 11 years now), I have walked the path of our broken systems alongside my son and I come with a different perspective than those suffering in the throes of addiction.
My son has at times lived at home, lived on his own, and been homeless. He has lived in Lethbridge, Calgary, Medicine Hat, Victoria, and Vancouver. My son does not want to be an addict. Some days he wins the fight, some days he does not. But he is still functional! He still loves. He still feels. He still does everything everyone else does. He is still a human being! AND HE STILL DOES NOT DESERVE TO DIE!
The Supervised Consumption Site is doing EXACTLY was it is designed to do – keep people from dying from using contaminated drugs. It also points its clientele towards available services – now if we had more services, we might be able to see some real decline in people in active addiction.
When I brought my son home from BC, we went to the SCS first thing on a Monday morning. He made contact with the Virtual Clinic and had a prescription for Suboxone later that same day. It was wonderful! Previously he would have had to wait 3 or 4 weeks for the “travelling addiction doctor” to be in town to either get a prescription or a change to his prescription. I can’t say enough about this service. For those that can’t abstain (which is not recommended by the experts anymore with regards to opiates), this service offers that window of opportunity when the desire for a change presents itself to someone suffering with addiction.
The main flaw in Lethbridge is that there is NOT enough wrap-around services for the amount of people suffering from addiction. When that window opens up where someone wants help, it can be weeks before that first step is available – the window has closed long before help is available and our vulnerable people are suffering due to these lack of services. Those proposing to stop funding to the SCS are playing God and they have no right to do so. We have the means and the know how to keep people alive – who has the right to say, “no you should die”. Which is exactly what will happen – people will DIE! DIE, DEAD, NO LONGER HERE. No chance for change, no window of opportunity. Addiction can be overcome. It does happen. It’s a very hard road to travel, but by God it happens every single day and we need to make sure that that opportunity is available every single day.
Stopping funding, thus closing the SCS is NOT going to change the needle debris in Lethbridge, it is not going to end addiction – it is only going to cause deaths. That will be the only outcome of this action. When my kids were little, we always searched the parks and playgrounds before letting our kids play – looking for broken glass and dog and cat feces. We searched then and you still need to search, only now you have to look for needles in addition to the other stuff. Yes it sucks, but it’s the way of life now in EVERY COMMUNITY – not just Lethbridge.
As far as crime goes, the SCS has been a dumping ground for blaming all that is wrong in Lethbridge. It is unfair and unwarranted. Nobody ever brings unemployment into the equation – that due to the slow down in Gas and Oil there are hundreds of people that were making very lucrative incomes and are now desperate to make ends meet – oh but they don’t commit crimes, they would never steal – its only addicts that do that.
Do you know how many people the death of one addict impacts – well there’s the mother and father, wife/husband perhaps children, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends . . . too numerous to count. Not only that, but children suffer the most from PTSD and the death of a parent. Imagine the environment of elementary, middle and high schools as these children grow-up.
I do not know what more we can do to make people realize the importance of Supervised Consumption Sites ALONG WITH ALL THE NECESSARY SERVICES that need to be available to people suffering from addiction. I do not think Lethbridge would be in this state of turmoil if we had had sufficient services put in place at the time of the opening of the SCS. There is only one reason the Supervised Consumption Site should have its funding stopped and that would be because there is safe supply and people do not need to worry about dying from using contaminated drugs.