Let’s Try Something New

“As a society, we have to begin to accept that there will always be a small percentage of our population that we will have to bear the cost of caring for. Due to poverty or illness, some just can’t make it on their own. Caring for the weak and the disenfranchised is part of what makes us civilized”.

For severely addicted people, who may never become “unaddicted”, do we honestly want to pursue a “cure” for the addiction, when that is absolutely not possible? Or should we keep them safe, give them what they need and let them live as peacefully and with as much dignity as possible? And if they want to try to heal, can we help them with compassion and caring?

We must accept that addiction is a fact in our society. As a society, I believe that we must care for those who are severely addicted, just as we care for anyone who is severely ill in any other way. We have to accept that there will always be a small percentage of our population that we will have to bear the cost of caring for. It’s what makes us civilized. And, from all the literature I have ever read, it will cost us less to care for these people with dignity than it will cost us to hound them, arrest them, jail them, treat them and do it all over again, with multiple emergency medical interventions – until they die a sad, lonely death.

Let’s try something completely different. We need a more “global” approach to addictions rather than the “trench-warfare, house-to-house” battle going on in places like Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. We need to let go of our preconceptions about addiction as a moral issue. We need to be open to an entirely new approach. And we need to be open, as professionals and caregivers, to the idea that “our” vision of what works may, quite possibly, be too narrow. I ask you, can we try something new?

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