It appears that the attitude towards drug use in Canada is finally shifting, as Vancouver city councilors voted unanimously on Wednesday, November 25th, 2020, to ask for federal permission to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs.
The decision came as a direct result of the rising death toll of the Opiod pandemic. According to an article on CTV,
“The city’s support for decriminalization came on the same day the BC Coroners Service issued a report documenting 162 illicit drug deaths across the province in October, amounting to five every day, including one daily in Vancouver.”
Until now, individuals could face criminal charges for the possession of illegal drugs. However, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart acknowledged that it is time to develop a health-focused approach to substance use, and remove the stigma from drug users.
Kennedy put forward the motion earlier last November. If it is approved, Vancouver city staff will work together with Vancouver Coastal Health, the police department, community groups, and individuals who have experience with drug use to determine the course of decriminalization.
While meditating on this development, the words of Canadian physician and trauma specialist Gabor Maté come to mind. He says,
“It is impossible to understand addiction without asking what relief the addict finds, or hopes to find, in the drug or the addictive behaviour.”
And that we must ask,
“Not why the addiction, but why the pain.”
We have to remind ourselves that no child wishes to grow up to be an addict, or to rely on any substance to numb their pain. But as we know, life brings with it pain and trauma. If we as a society do not have the tools in place to help our citizens process their traumas, then it is society that has failed, not the individual.
We at Great Valley Therapeutics are hopeful that this decision will bring us one step closer to holistic healthcare reformation that aims to heal the pain of individuals from the source.
Carried along the winds of change, a new voice can now be heard across the country. It says,
“I see you, and I see that you are hurting. You deserve to feel love and happiness, and you are going to receive the help you need.”
To everyone who finds themselves caught in the vicious cycle of addiction and substance use, know that we at GVT see you and feel you stronger than ever. We are in this together, and we will spend the rest of our lives working to create a healthier, happier future for us all.