Today's discussion:

Canada’s harm reduction regime is collapsing as disillusionment grows around decriminalized drugs

Until very recently, “harm reduction” ideology—which pushes for “safer supply” of opioids and the decriminalization of hard drugs—enjoyed a near-total stranglehold on Canadian addiction policy. But then, in a relatively short period of time, it has fallen out of favour as our politicians, responding to an increasingly fearful public, finally pivoted towards the rhetoric of treatment, recovery, and public safety.

Read article

Comments (20)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please wait...
Your comment has been posted and should appear immediately.
You comment has been received but needs to be moderated before it appears.
Oops! Something went wrong. Please try again or contact us for help.
Michael B

If the proponents of this former policy had opted for a free supply of tobacco and given permission for all tobacco products to be used in public places such as hospitals, public transport etc…. If they had decided to provide free alcohol and that any alcohol could be consumed anywhere, by anyone….It wouldn’t have required much imagination to have predicted the results.
That so-called health professionals and politicians instead chose to implement such a policy for hard drugs, without considering the obvious impacts, speaks volumes about their incompetence and naiveté.

8th May 2024 at 7:43 am

LOL…not a very relevant comparison!

8th May 2024 at 3:42 pm
Michael B

LOL. They could not be. Tobacco and alcohol are rarely deadly when taken in a single dose. Therefore, the decision makers had to be far more circumspect. Obviously, they were not.

8th May 2024 at 7:57 pm
Mark Johnson

Bravo on doing great work. You should be nominated for some journalism awards.

I too wrote about the failures of harm reduction on The Hub a couple of years ago. I’d go even further by saying that drug liberalization policies over the past twenty years have been seriously misguided. We’re only now starting to realize the deadly health effects of drugs that hitherto had been thought of as harmless, such as cannabis and its effect on brain development, anxiety, mood disorders, hospitalizations, impaired driving, etc.

Keep going Adam. You’re saving more addicts’ lives than the harm reduction advocates.

8th May 2024 at 9:34 am
Paul Attics

Drug abuse is a downstream symptom of longer-term societal level problems. Effectively dealing with the acute problem is obviously critical but why is our society producing so many people vulnerable to the debilitating clutches of these “heinous escape-from-reality substances”.

We are rightly focused on fighting ongoing fires, but not enough on fire prevention.

8th May 2024 at 9:39 am
Michael F

Well one of the obvious answers is that a lot of these people are self medicating for mental illnesses they are not getting proper treatment for. Another issue is the over prescription of opioids thanks to pharma corps like Purdue.

8th May 2024 at 11:07 am
Robert Tilden

Sir society is not producing most of them Doctors are,, using opioids as a pain killer should not be legal as the addiction kicks in in as little as 5 days ,, when the same Dr cuts them off they have to turn to the street for the fix they now need,, Thats where china has declared war on N/A they supply the fentanyl to the gangs that ad them to the opioids that produce the overdoses, that crippile our social services,, like cops , hospitals, etc

8th May 2024 at 11:55 am
Don Morris

“It was repeatedly emphasized that decriminalization worked for Portugal in the 2000s and that it was only natural to follow Europe’s example.”
It seems Canada is only willing to follow Europe’s examples to a certain extent, with no expensive followup to the original proposal.
Portugal is very strict with it’s recovery program and those addicts who refuse are incarcerated, something Canada’s politicians are too cowardly to do lest it offend a loud mouthed activist.
Critics said this would happen when Larry Campbell began his (in)famous “four pillars” approach to addiction, stating correctly that after the first pillar of harm reduction the other three would never be implemented.
Anyone who’d been paying attention knew the fact of that claim, as fully implemented social programs are expensive, far beyond what governments are willing to spend.
The same can be said of our treatment of mental health care, corrections, and our “war on poverty”, photo-ops for the politicians don’t turn into sound policy, ever.

8th May 2024 at 11:06 am
Michael F

Safe supply, harm reduction and decriminalization of small amounts of drugs were always supposed to be part of a larger effort to get people into treatment and recovery. This first element was primarily meant to stem the amount of deaths and serious illness being caused by the tainted supply of illicit drugs. Is the program perfect? No. Is there a better alternative at the moment? No. Is a tough on crime approach going to make any difference? None at all. It will just mean higher police budgets and more people in the prison system who really should be in treatment.

Should violent, prolific offenders be in prison? Yes. Absolutely.

8th May 2024 at 8:44 am
Alison Malis

What “treatment and recovery” though. That’s what isn’t available. Proponents of the current system love to run around yelling “Portugal” but the success of Portugal’s drug wars, for lack of a better word, is because of available mandatory treatment and recovery. None of that exists — or exists in far too small a capacity to make any difference at all — in BC at least.

8th May 2024 at 10:35 am
Michael F

Yes and that is part of the issue. We are slow on delivering treatment and therapy. A doctor I spoke with recently told me it is relatively straight forward getting people cleaned up in the short term, the problem lies in keeping people clean.

8th May 2024 at 11:11 am
Kim Morton

Using drugs isn’t the crime. Supplying drugs to vulnerable people is the crime, and is not punished by our extreme left wing politicians and courts.

8th May 2024 at 9:31 pm
A. Chezzi

Neither decriminalization, nor forced treatment will solve this problem. There has to be an approach which treats the whole person. Addiction of any kind is a symptom of something much more serious. There have to be supports in place to go along with the approaches in place now. There is a need for more support workers, counsellors, drop in centers, long term stay centers where people can find the help they need.
We are living in a time when people are searching for a deeper meaning to life than just what the material can offer. Often, people turn to the material for a quick fix finding it doesn’t give what they are looking for and so they go on and on looking for the elusive fix. It seems our whole society is turned upside down. Anger, division, hate, the lack of civility, the inability to discuss, so much reflected in politics and in politicians, and there is no one, civil, or spiritual who seems to offer anything different which resonates with people. Sadly, there are those who will manipulate these feelings for their own gain.
Crisis has two sides to it; failure or success. Let us hope that we can find success and create a society which has benefits for all.

8th May 2024 at 8:24 am
guy meloche

i wish we could kick trudeau ou to replace him white Pierre right now

8th May 2024 at 6:51 am

We should picket, all across Canada, just like the pro-Palestinians are doing

8th May 2024 at 7:53 am
Kim Morton

Where to start. As someone with a lot of experience with drugs in my misspent youth, I am confused by the whole thing. Not charging addicts is about the only part of the current program that makes sense. The four pillars approach, which must be 40 years old by now, included treatment with a safe drug supply. Only someone whose only experience with drugs is a university course, could possibly think that giving addicts unlimited free drugs without mandatory treatment is a good idea.
Provide treatment, preferably mandatory for addicts, and real punishment for importers and dealers is going to produce much better results. And yes, most addicts will require multiple runs through treatment before kicking their habits, and some will die in the process. You have to want to quit before you can quit. But, there has to be something to want to live for, not something to die from.

8th May 2024 at 9:26 pm
L Tuff

This is unconscionable, what did they think would happen? Just give addicts more drugs, this is a cure??? Where do we find this Stupidity? Give an alcoholic more alcohol this too should be a cure. Politicians are
Out of their league they should leave tis to the pros.

8th May 2024 at 7:10 pm

The big failure has been the Provinces over and over again, cutting health care budgets, planning within their elected terms, not for the future or the big picture. The article talks about having healthcare professionals at safe injection sites, well hell there are not enough of these anywhere in the poorly managed provincial systems. If I had not been able to personally pay for private care for my son after heart surgery that got him hooked on percocet, He would have died. All these so called experts need to spend more time on solutions that knocking everything.

8th May 2024 at 1:59 pm
Robert Tilden

I posted a reasonable comment and you have yanked it off the “comments section”,, why?? I did not agree with most folks here but differences are good for debate,, please explain ??

8th May 2024 at 11:07 am

It is a conservative publication…so they play by typical con rules!

8th May 2024 at 3:44 pm