I don't agree with safe consumption sites, but I do think they are part of the solution to clean, happy and prosperous communities.
The solution comes in multiple stages and I hope to get the community’s opinion on my thoughts. Maybe others could pitch in their ideas as well.
I'll start with safe consumption sites. I am not completely educated on them, nor am I going to pretend that I am. I do believe that they should have 3 things:
1. On-hand nurses
2. Mental health workers
3. A safe place to consume narcotics
The location of these sites is usually not in the best places. I believe over by the Liquidation World, Fabricland and the bingo hall has been shut down in that area for some time now. I think that is at the heart of the problem and relatively close to the hospital.
If we found out the max capacity of that building I believe that could be one of many housing complexes for homeless people and addicts. Housing complexes and safe use sites in the same place, I believe, would be beneficial for the addicts and to all of Red Deer because it would centralize crime. Obviously, it’s not ideal but would we rather have them in our back yards?
Obviously, we need on-hand nurses or trained professionals to help at the safe consumption sites for overdoses.
I say have mental health workers at the safe consumption site/housing complexes because I almost guarantee every single addict has some kind of traumatic experience or mental health issue that has gone unresolved for some time. If a person wants to live in the housing complex, I believe if it is funded by our tax dollars and the government they should have to agree to seek mental help while living there. If they don't have a therapist one will be provided for them. Doing hard drugs causes long term effects to your mental health so they have to continuously work with them at getting better.
When I talk to our local homeless and addicts I find that most of them say they don't have a purpose anymore. "Lost Souls" would be how I would describe them. They think they have nothing to live for – no job, no home, no family – so they abuse substances. If the city and province got involved in cleaning up not only the city but the province with this project we could possibly give them work. They would receive a basic income that would cover, food, clothes, etc. As they continue through the recovery process their income would increase, eventually making enough to find another place. Maybe even an optional continuation recovery process living complex. I have ideas about the secondary recovery process. But we are not even close to there yet.
Living complexes would have basic rules in place for everyone's safety. They would also need to supply 24-hour security for the safety of the employees and residents living there.
This potential solution has many positives and, as every option, it has its negatives. But I feel it creates an opportunity for addicts to become functioning members of society again. This solution creates:
1. Jobs for professionals in related industries such as health care, security, etc.
2. Allows for addicts and those who are struggling to find their purpose again
3. Cleans up the city
4. Creates clean, healthy addicts who are functional members of society
5. Puts a halt on the growing epidemic.
I believe this "program" would help at least 60% - 75% of the addicts and homeless on our city. We will never be able to stop this epidemic across the globe. But we can at least try something within our communities to find a solution for us.
Safe use sites + mental health workers + living complexes = safer, cleaner Red Deer.
- Brendon Wick
EDITOR'S NOTE: The views expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of rdnewsNOW or the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group. Column suggestions and letters to the editor can be sent to [email protected]
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