Conservative MP Marc Dalton (The News files)

LETTER: Recovery is best solution for solving opioid crisis

During mental health week, MP draws attention to support needed for those addicted to illicit drugs

Dear Editor,

RE: Opioid Crisis & Recovery – Mental Health Week – May 3 to 9

We’ve all been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is another pandemic… it’s the opioid crisis and it has taken the lives of more British Columbians last year than COVID-19 did.

According to the BC Coroners Service, 1,716 people died from illicit drug use in 2020, a shocking 74-per-cent increase from the year before, with half dying in their homes.

I know and have met grieving families who have lost a loved one to this plague.

Just in Maple Ridge, where I live, there were 500 overdoses last year.

While the numbers are dramatically spiking the question is… what can we do?

I believe there needs to be a greater emphasis placed on recovery.

Sadly, there is very little provincial or federal support for recovery programs. These programs often run on extremely lean budgets and count on private donations to stay open.

I visited a couple of local recovery homes recently.

Hannah House is a 37-bed residential treatment program for women. All staff and counsellors draw from personal experiences in recovery, and they all lead clean and sober lives.

I met with a dozen or so women at the shelter. Tiffany told me: “After being an addict for 20 years, they have given me the tools I needed to love myself, so I can go home and be the mother my children need.”

Another young woman told me she had been addicted to drugs and supported her habit through prostitution. She said she would have been dead if it wasn’t for the help she was now receiving.

Joanna is the manager of the Hannah House, and she told me there’s so much money currently being spent helping people stay sick and addicted.

“It’s heart-breaking.” She said she can appreciate keeping people alive but how about allowing them to truly live. “It’s kind of like having a mom who keeps giving money to her kids so they can buy drugs.” I asked her why she thought there was little government funding. She replied that abstinence-based recovery is not ‘politically correct’ because the authorities don’t want to come across as telling people what to do.

Hope for Freedom is a faith-based organization that provides addiction recovery services in Port Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, and Mission.

Through their programs thousands of men and women have courageously changed their lives for the better.

I have been deeply touched as I’ve listened to stories of how their lives have been transformed.

The men at the Maple Ridge site engage in community services such as volunteering at Friends in Need Food Bank. They are a key component for the food bank to help the most needy in our community. The men tell me, as they reach out and help they’re really happy to contribute and it’s also incredibly therapeutic for them.

As a Member of Parliament, I want to do all I can to support organizations like these.

I want to see an increased emphasis and greater investment in recovery.

Last month, I made a statement in the House of Commons acknowledging and thanking the mentioned organizations as well as the Salvation Army, Maple Ridge Treatment Centre, Celebrate Recovery, the Miller House, and the One Way Club.

Thousands of lives hang in the balance and increased access to recovery is a proven way to see transformation in individual lives, which in turn helps transform our society.

Marc Dalton, Member of Parliament for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge


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