I watched a video this morning on Facebook outlying the poverty in Surrey, British Columbia,Canada. Seeing the reality of addiction and mental health is devastating, of encampments are alive and real in our beautiful cities in British Columbia, Canada.#interventionssaveslives
Being a native of Canada living and working in Vancouver British Columbia for many years, I seen the destruction of addiction and mental health. Moving to the United States 11 years ago with dual citizenship, I continue to work as an Addiction Specialist and Certified Interventionist, both Canada and the United States.
It is heartbreaking to see the escalation of poverty, opiate addiction crisis and the death toll rising in both in Canada and the United States. In 2017, 1100 persons died from drug addiction overdoses, in Canada. In North America, there were 42,000 person that died in 2017.
#Untreatedaddiction is not only the drugs that are persons are using, it is a unmanageable and destructive lifestyle and in some cases, complex trauma & mental health is associated with the lifestyle and untreated addictive behaviors. I remembered when I got clean and sober over 26 years ago, I was told that I needed to change everything. I realized after that first few days of complete abstinence, I was in grief of the life/behaviors that I was living for such a long time. I also remembered the safety and security of living in a safe environment, which felt secure and a sense of belonging in spite of my addictive behaviors and untreated addiction. I was able to process and accept help for my behaviors related to addiction and learned that I had a disease of addiction. Most addicts are the last to know that they have an addiction, the denial is greater than the reality of their life. I was able to address the unmanageability of my life which helped me to become motivated to continue on the path of complete abstinence.
My immediate thoughts go to Safety, Security, love and belonging ,which is an humanistic need for all human beings. It really does not matter what family values and beliefs, an addicted person was taught in their childhood. I have met many folks that being educated, and come from really good families that are checked out on drugs or alcohol addictions because of the lifestyle of addiction and mental health issues are more powerful and addicts will loose their dignity and care for no one except themselves.
Meeting addiction and mental health persons using client centered approach is very important and creating a structure treatment plans using recovery coaches, and other resources are far better that enabling or closing the door on addiction. It is far more important that trying to talk addicts into stopping their drugs or alcohol use, ( an addictive person will only stop using, when their addictions are interrupted by negative consequences) The importance of professional help with case management and treatment planning and recovery coaching is vital to creating healthy transitions for healthy attachments and relationships). This may not mean that the addict will stop using drugs, but if you bring structure, housing, and support to the addicted person, they will have a better opportunity to either gain complete abstinence or start on a path of being motivated to be humanized and learn how to live life.
I was thinking of all the encampments in and around the British Columbia. I was also thinking of the housing cost rising, and rentals out of control, my next thoughts were, how does someone on low income resources, receiving $600 a month find a rental property and live in one of the most expensive provinces in Canada. I know in San Francisco which is where I live, the housing prices are really off the hook, that is why there are rent controls and more low income housing and transit fees in place for lower income folks. In Vancouver, British Columbia, the cost of a bus transit pass is over $80 and the cost of rentals is outrageous through out the Fraser Valley, lower mainland.
I first hand seen the increased numbers of addicts living in the downtown eastside on the streets, depending on soup kitchens, fire trap SRO’s hotel rooms, and supporting their addictions by selling drugs, committing crime, and having no real goal, other than getting up and doing the same thing over and over again to get high on drugs. I get addiction, but to have the govern laws persons accept this as a norm is the sad part, seeing addicts as numbers waiting to die is the truth.
I think it is great to talk about recovery, detox, treatment, and supportive housing. But, if there are none of these services available, we set addicts up to rationalized their addictions and lifestyle. I get addiction and the survival of addiction. Which brings me to the point of how can the epidemic of opiates #fentanylthenewcrack, not continue when there is nothing more to do for any addict other than go with the flow of what is on the streets, to check out, and not face the pain of a miserable existence.
I am not oppose to harm reduction, needle exchanges, safe injection sites, nor am I oppose to abstinence recovery treatment ( which is the ultimate for any addict to stop using and find a new way to live). How do we meet in the middle? Not all addicts or alcoholics will gain full freedom from drug or alcohol addictions. Housing and structure environments are very important with mandatory compliance for welfare in an humane/social approach, criminal sentencing needs to be changed/holding drug dealers more accountable for the deaths of addicts and possessions of drugs.
I remembered back in the 1970’s if there was an arrest for possession or trafficking drugs, sentences given were an automatic 7 years in prisons. I am not a big believer that jails and prisons are the answers for your using addict, but I am a big believer that if drug dealers and traffickers are bringing drugs into Canada and selling it on the streets, that are killing addicts, there needs to be more laws implemented on tougher sentencing in Canada.
Addicts living from pillar to post to use drugs with loss of dignity and no consequences. It is normalized that folks can live on the streets live in encampments, moved month to month, to another area, or until they kick out of the area by the city laws that govern, the cycle of addiction is not only drug use… The nature of any addict is to repeat the same behavior over and over again, until arrested by consequences or death.
If untreated addictive persons is surviving to stay high on drugs, to check out emotionally from the pain of living from pillar to post with nothing to look forward too in life “they will”. Let’s be real….if you expect an addict or person with mental health to make a change on their own, it is not realistic. Professional interventions can be important, to help find solutions, to give addicts a sense of hope to look at drug addictions/lifestyle (the disease of disconnection). It is important to stop just looking at the drug use which is very important, however creating connections using the Attachment theory is a psychological model that attempts to describe the dynamics of long-term and short-term interpersonal relationships between humans, and Maslow’s Hierarchy Theory of Human Motivation which helps to humanize the values and beliefs in addictive persons life.
Practicing the solutions leads persons to live in the solution which supports the relational connections that in fact is what most addictive persons are lacking.