The data shows that safe care and decriminalization do not reduce opioid-related deaths

So-called experts say safe care and decriminalization will reduce overdose deaths, but the numbers show the opposite.

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Following the decriminalization of simple possession of all drugs, we now have six months of statistics on overdose deaths in British Columbia. The results are not only not very encouragingthey should send people screaming the other way.

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Instead, Toronto is going full steam ahead, trying to replicate British Columbia’s failures in Canada’s largest city.

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Led by Health Commissioner Eileen de Villa and with support from City Council and Police Commissioner Myron Demkiw, Toronto has requested an exemption from federal drug laws that is even broader than what BC was granted. We are told this is based on “science” and “evidence” but the hard numbers from BC would refute these claims.

At the moment, according to the Current figures from the British Columbia Coroners ServiceThe province is on track to experience its worst year in drug overdose deaths ever – even after drug possession was decriminalized on Jan. 31.

From January 1 to July 31, there were 1,455 overdose deaths in BC, compared to 1,362 for the same period in 2022 and 1,279 in 2021. Per capita, the province sits at 46.2 deaths per 100,000 people, its highest Ever recorded.

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This is despite the fact that BC has implemented every proposed harm reduction program, from safe injection sites to safe supplies and the effective legalization of all drugs. With each new measure, the number of drug overdose deaths has risen, apart from a brief drop in 2019.

There were 334 overdose deaths across BC in 2013, up from 1,455 so far this year. This compares to 382 drug overdose deaths in 2023 between January 1 and July 31 in Vancouver alone.

If this is a success for the activists pushing this policy, what does failure look like?

A secure supply is another mistake

The same is true of so-called safe care, where addicts are prescribed pharmaceutical-grade opioids to discourage them from taking toxic street drugs. When London, Ontario tested this program in 2016, it was sold as a way to reduce emergency room visits and overdose deaths.

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Instead, Public Health Ontario data shows Emergency room visits for opioids increased from 39.5 per 100,000 to 203.7 per 100,000 in 2021. City opioid deaths rose from 6.3 per 100,000 to 25.4 per 100,000.

Despite a five-fold increase in opioid-related emergency room visits and a four-fold increase in deaths, this program was declared a success and expanded to communities across the country.

Write in Globe and mail, dr Mark Mallett has called for an end to unsupervised safe care programs that give people take-home medicines. From his position in a Victoria hospital, Mallet has seen younger people seek help with their opioid addiction through these programs.

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He has seen people whose lives have been shattered after starting their journey into addiction on Safe Supply pills.

“Unobserved secure supply is causing untold damage in unintended and deeply troubling ways.” Mallet wrote: He documents his experiences with the program in Victoria.

While the data from the British Columbia Coroners Service and Public Health Ontario is unequivocal – these programs have led to more deaths, more emergency room visits and more misery – they continue to be pushed by activist doctors.

In case of a secure supply a study of the London pilot was written by several physicians, including Dr. Andrea Sereda, who founded and managed the pilot program. This study looked at the experiences of 100 people who participated in the program over a four-year period and claimed success in reducing their visits to the emergency room and overdoses.

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The impact on the wider community is not considered, making the study as questionable as Dr. Sereda’s participation in it. It’s the equivalent of having a student evaluate their own work and allowing every answer to be correct.

We have a real addiction crisis in this country, especially with opioids. We need real and compassionate solutions that will help people put their lives back in order.

There is no point in insisting that the only way to do this is to implement programs that have led to more overdoses and deaths.

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