Many of you who follow the news might still be wondering what exactly opiods are. It’s one of those inclusive euphemistic terms like indigenous, and it basically refers to a wide range of chemical products that began with opium. It includes heroin and morphine, and many prescription painkillers like oxycodone, and fentanyl.
That last name has made a lot of headlines across Canada. This week in Winnipeg, emergency responders put on their full body hazardous material suits and carried away three bodies that they found when they broke into a house.
One of them was a 21 year old mother of two, identified by her grieving sister as Aayla Asham. In addition to abusing opiods, Aayla was also struggling with a cocaine addiction.
Individual provinces have been documenting such tragedies for several years now, and the politicians gathered in Ottawa to begin efforts to develop a national strategy.
When I lived in Regina a few years ago, I got to know some of the dedicated kind people at Carmichael Outreach. They provide a safe place for people to inject drugs, if that’s not a total contradiction. They distribute many thousands of clean needles each year.
I was somewhat amused when I first heard them use the term harm reduction. So was Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall who wondered out loud if there’s ever a happy ending to the story.
The vast majority of us do our best to pretend that the story doesn’t even exist, but that’s getting harder to do.
If our society is about caring for each other, and making our communities better places to live and nurture future generations, then surely we must find a better way. It won’t be easy, but it must be done.
I’m Roger Currie