REALity Volume XXXV Issue No. 12 December 2016
Fentanyl is an opioid that is being prescribed in enormous amounts across Canada, supposedly to relieve pain caused for anything from dental to post-surgical discomfort.
In fact, Canada and the US have the undesirable status of having the highest per-capita volume of opioids dispensed in the world. Fentanyl, which is supposed to help people by relieving their pain, is, in fact, killing two people every day in Canada, by overdose. This is because when used only one or two times daily, these opioids triple the risk of death.
The Minister of Health, Jane Philpott, has responded to the opioid epidemic by imposing some restrictions on the prescribing of opioids, and the RCMP is planning to restrict six chemicals used to make illegal fentanyl.
However, Philpott is apparently not aware that when individuals dependent on prescription opioids are cut off from the drug, they are much more likely to transition to street drugs. This is what is happening daily.
In the US, in 2014, over 14,000 people died of fentanyl overdose. In B.C., drugs in 60% of overdose deaths and 86% of drugs brought into Vancouver’s drug injection site were found to be contaminated with fentanyl. Drug traffickers in Vancouver easily order this highly potent, low-cost drug online, mainly from China. It is then cut into street drug amounts. The contaminated drug is then purchased by addicts who bring this illicit drug onto the injection site. More than 433 people have died of illicit drug overdoses in BC this year – a 74% increase from the same period last year. The final, yearly death toll in BC is expected to be between 600 and 800 people.
This grave problem of deaths by fentanyl has been greatly increased by the use of another, even more fatal drug, called carfentanil. It is so deadly that a dose, only the size of a grain of sand, can be lethal. It is 100 times more powerful than fentanyl. It is used to kill elephants and as a tool of war and terrorism. Despite these dangers, Chinese vendors are selling the drug openly online. Already, in just a few months since this drug emerged, Canada has experienced several deaths from it.
Our ever cheery, ever complacent Minister of Health, Jane Philpott, is apparently devoid of common sense, and has acquiesced to the politically correct position on drug use in injection sites where these trafficked, contaminated drugs are being injected. She told the CBC that “drug injection sites have the possibility of saving countless lives”.
Yet, the number of deaths by drug overdose has increased each year in the area surrounding a Vancouver drug injection facility called “Insite” since it was established in 2003.
Addicts lie around the street surrounding Insite publicly injecting themselves. Public disorder is rampant with addicts openly urinating and defecating on the street, fighting each other over drug related matters. Violence and assaults occur daily, related to the drug trade. Addicts use the facility as an information exchange to find out where the best dealers are and to supplement their existing “fix”.
Drug injection sites are financed by the federal and provincial governments. They make no pretence of treating the addict. They merely provide the facilities for the addict to freely shoot up under medical supervision. This legitimizes or normalizes illicit drug use and gives the addict a sense of entitlement to do so. Drug injection sites do nothing to curtail drug addiction. Whose side is Philpott on? Her role is to protect public health, not endanger it.
Currently the Liberal government is addressing drug addiction problems by insanely increasing the number of drug injection sites where addicts inject their contaminated drugs. Three sites each are scheduled for Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
Another policy to curtail the drug epidemic by the Liberal government is to treat opioid dependence with another opioid called methadone. The latter drug can suppress cravings, but it is also addictive. In Ontario alone, more than 50,000 people are on methadone maintenance treatment. There is deep concern that methadone is being misused and overused. In some health regions, one in five people on methadone is under the age of 25 years. It is a life-long treatment that is associated with adverse effects, such as higher rates of depression and mortality. Despite this, some of the highest paid doctors are methadone providers. They make a lucrative living, not just from prescribing methadone, but also from the frequent urine tests that are required in methadone treatment. In Ontario, methadone treatment costs the taxpayer $250 million per year.
Obviously, the opioid epidemic cannot be solved by the indiscriminate prescribing of another opioid. It is on treatment that only perpetuates the problem of addiction.
The carnage from drug addiction is families torn apart, financial ruin, careers destroyed, and an early, often terrifying death. This fall-out from drug addiction can continue for years and even decades for the suffering families of drug addicts.
Why isn’t money being poured into the only rational solution to drug addiction, which is drug treatment programs? In Sweden, drug addicts are subject to mandatory treatment. As a result, Sweden has the lowest drug addiction rate in all of Europe.
Why is Canada so inadequate in dealing with drug addiction? It is creating increasing problems and health care costs for the taxpayer, not to mention suffering and death for the drug addicts. Being politically correct is very harmful to Canadians.