Letter to the Editor:
As submitted to the London Free Press July 11, 2012
Re: Heroin Scourge Lands in London (LFP July 4) and Deadly Dope Deadlier (LFP July 6)
Mr. Randy Richmond and the editors of the London Free Press are to be commended for openly reporting on Ms. Burton, Ms. Death-Wheatley and Ms. Wenders’ very honest appraisals on the rising availability and use of heroin in our city. At London InterCommunity Health Centre’s Health Outreach Program our frontline experience working at the intersection of poverty, homelessness and addiction mirrors what has been reported in these stories.
Like elsewhere, London has an abundance of people who engage in the non-medical use of substances, regardless of race, creed or income level. Many of these community members use opioids, including Oxycontin. It is regrettable then that by removing this medication from pharmacies’ shelves the well-intended Ontario Narcotics Strategy (ONS) has created significant room for heroin to move in. Just as the “Just Say No” rhetoric of the 1980’s failed to understand the human psyche, the ONS has failed to anticipate the devastating fallout of its reactive response to an alarming level of opioid addiction in Ontario.
Is it not time for governments to legislate policies regarding non-medical use of substances that are rooted in scientific evidence rather than ideology or panic? Our long history of criminalizing and stigmatizing drug addiction has done nothing to stem a very real and growing social problem – it has dramatically worsened it. By employing realistic and open-minded approaches we create opportunities for everyone to be safer and healthier, with less cost to the public purse.
For the Poverty, Homelessness and Options Team
London InterCommunity Health Centre
659 Dundas Street
London, Ontario N5W 2Z1
(519) 660-0874, extension 235