In the past 15 years, the City of Vancouver has focused on safe injection sites (harm reduction) & neglected the other important pillars to deal with drug addiction (Prevention, Enforcement, and Treatment). In a way, the City has been using taxpayers’ money to keep the drug business flourishing and enrich the drug dealers.
It is NOT enough to keep drug addiction victims alive, it is time to give them another chance in life through treatment and recovery.
As a Councilor, I would create the Drug-Addiction Elimination Plan (DAEP), modify the City policies to reflect this notion, and based on scientific evidence, I would execute it keeping my eyes on the outcomes. The plan would make Vancouver a model for other cities to follow.
I will donate 50% of my salary as a councilor to support the program.
Since 2003, the City of Vancouver has adopted a four-pillar policy to combat drug addiction including: Prevention, Harm-reduction, Treatment, and Enforcement.
In the past 15 years, the city has failed in implementing the addiction policy because their efforts were focused on harm reduction, and ignored the other pillars. The city’s objectives regarding drug addiction has been to keep the addicts alive without effective treatment and recovery plans or enforcing the law against drug dealers. Implicitly, the city of Vancouver has been using taxpayers’ money to help enrich the drug dealers at the expense of the society, and the addiction victims and their families. For example, in 2017, more than 1420 people died of drug overdose, while the drug dealers are enjoying their wealth with impunity. As we have seen in a recent government report, drug dealers’ profits were laundered in real estate in Vancouver, contributing further to the housing crisis.
As a councilor, I will establish a mental illness and addiction prevention program to eliminate drug addictions in Vancouver in eight years and make it a model for other cities to follow.
To show my commitment to the policy, I will donate 50% of my salary as a councilor to support the prevention program.
Ignoring Enforcement, Prevention, and Treatment has cost taxpayers millions of dollars and thousands of human lives.
Details about the platform to combat drug addiction
As a Councilor, I would rewrite the prevention policy and donate 50% of my compensation as a councilor to support it.
In 2017, fentanyl killed 1421 people while the drug dealers made millions of dollars and have used the spoils of their crime to ruin the real estate market for hard working people.
As a Councilor, I would require the VPD to treat drug dealers with an iron fist to disturb their networks, and confiscate their financial gains from drug trading. Also, for transparency purposes, I would request that the City issue a biannual success report on enforcement of the campaign against the drug trade.
As a councilor, I will demand that the city use the assets confiscated from drug dealers to partner with the health authority to set an effective program to help drug addicts through their treatment and recovery journey. It will be an integrated plan to help drug addicts to become a productive part of society.
The City was expected to comply with the provision of the 1988 Convention, “Demand reduction policies shall: (i) Aim at preventing the use of drugs and at reducing the adverse consequences of drug abuse.” However, the city mandate was for harm reduction, but it implied that harm reduction did not mean abstinence because, in the City’s opinion, it was an unrealistic goal for some drug users! It is not part of the City plan to help addicts abstain. In keeping the drug addict alive for the sake of enriching the drug dealers is not acceptable. The policy should help take the addict all the way to treatment and recovery.
In the past 15 years, the number of drug addicts continued to rise and the fatalities kept rising and peaked in 2017. The number of fatalities reached 1420 in 2017 alone.
Although prevention is the most important pillar of the drug policy, it has not received attention of City Council in the past 15 years.
The VPD says in their report, “Of the four pillars, prevention requires the greatest amount of commitment and collaboration across all sectors of the community over a sustained period of time to show significant results. In the long-term though, prevention will have the greatest impact in reducing harm from substance use.” However, the VPD was concerned that a lack of resources dedicated to this pillar does not allow for large-scale prevention programs. Success in this pillar, it says, would reduce needs in the other three.
From my experience running my own charity in the mental health field, the prevention plan would become one of the best investments that contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to our economy, save lives, and improves our quality of life.
In the past 15 years, the City ignored the third pillar—enforcement against the drug dealers’ networks. Their crimes culminated in 2017 and the city lost more than 1420 people to fentanyl, but we have not seen any leaders of the drug dealers indicted.
Drug dealers have killed thousands of people in Vancouver and destroyed the lives of thousands of families, used the proceeds of their crime to contribute to the real estate bubble, which displaced thousands of hard working people.
If someone murders another, (s)he would go to jail, but when a head of a drug dealer network kills more than 1400 people, he would become very wealthy and easily use the real estate in Vancouver to launder his gains from the drug trade.
Treatment is neglected and the city has been so proud of its leading role in establishing safe injection sites, but it meant nothing if we don’t take the addict a step further into treatment & recovery. Evidently, the drug addicts are not aware of any programs for recovery. As Lori Culbert and Daphne Brmham of the Vancouver Sun report in their interview of a drug addict, “When I was out on the streets using my resources — going to shelters, food lineups, youth resource centres that see me messed up and intoxicated every day — not once did they mention recovery to me,” said the 24-year-old Cree man who grew up in B.C.’s foster care system. “I had accepted my death down there.”
It is time to give drug addiction victims another chance in life, not just keeping them alive.
Vancouver Sun, Lori Culbert & Daphne Bramham, July 19, 2018, Need drug treatment? You should be able to ‘ask for help once and get support right away’: B.C. report,
As presented on the City of Vancouver Website https://vancouver.ca/people-programs/four-pillars-drug-strategy.aspx
The four pillars approach to drug addiction was first implemented in Europe in the 1990s, and is based on four principals:
Successfully used in such cities as Geneva, Zurich, Frankfurt, and Sydney, this four pillars approach has resulted in a:
The goal of the Four Pillars Drug Strategy is to reduce harm to individuals and communities from the sale and use of both legal and illegal substances.
The principles of harm reduction require that we do no harm to those suffering from substance addiction, and that we focus on the harm caused by problematic substance use, rather than substance use per se.
Harm reduction involves establishing a hierarchy of achievable goals which, when taken step by step, can lead to a healthier life for drug users and a healthier community for everyone. It accepts that abstinence may not be a realistic goal for some drug users, particularly in the short term. Harm reduction involves an achievable, pragmatic approach to drug issues.
A 2002 International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) legal opinion on harm reduction approaches noted that the concept of harm reduction had only emerged in the previous decade, but aspects of the existing international drug control treaties addressed harm reduction issues.
It pointed to a provision in the 1988 Convention: “Demand reduction policies shall: (i) Aim at preventing the use of drugs and at reducing the adverse consequences of drug abuse.” The legal opinion said it could be argued that this provision provides a mandate for harm reduction.
Harm reduction interventions have proven successful in decreasing the open drug scene, the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, overdoses and overdose deaths in countries such as Germany, Switzerland and Australia.
Vancouver’s harm reduction programs include the supervised injection site (SIS), needle exchanges and low-threshold community health services. Vancouver has 24-hour-a-day access to needles through low-threshold, peer-based needle exchanges, to mobile exchanges and needle exchanges attached to primary health care services.
North America’s first Supervised Injection Site (SIS), InSite, opened in Vancouver in September 2003.
The prevention pillar includes strategies and interventions that help prevent harmful use of alcohol, tobacco, and both illegal and prescription drugs.
In November 2005, Council unanimously endorsed the drug policy prevention plan, Preventing Harm from Psychoactive Substance Use. The plan is the result of extensive research and diverse community consultations.
The plan is also the first of its kind at the municipal level in Canada. It is comprehensive, integrated, and based on the best evidence and research available. It aims to expand awareness, understanding and discourse around prevention.
The plan will:
There are 27 recommendations in the plan. They map out a comprehensive strategy for reaching the goals.
They call for public education, employment training and jobs, supportive and transitional housing and easily accessible healthcare. They also call for prevention efforts tailored to Vancouver’s youth and its diverse ethno-cultural and Indigenous communities.
The recommendations address marijuana grow operations and methamphetamine labs, as well as the need for a syringe recovery system. The plan also calls for increasing limits on the sale of tobacco and a community partnership approach to the development and implementation of a comprehensive alcohol strategy.
Finally, the plan calls for legislative and regulatory changes to create a regulatory system for all currently illegal drugs that would increase our ability to control potentially harmful substances and limit the control that organized criminals have over these drugs.
The prevention of problematic substance use contributes to the public good by reducing costs to society as well as harm to individuals and communities. Important prevention goals include delaying the onset of substance use among youth and addressing the underlying causes of drug use. Prevention acknowledges that individuals usually make the best choices available to them, but that factors such as abuse, poverty or a history of addiction in the family may constrain those choices.
Of the four pillars, prevention requires the greatest amount of commitment and collaboration across all sectors of the community over a sustained period of time to show significant results. In the long-term though, prevention will have the greatest impact in reducing harm from substance use.
The treatment pillar includes a range of interventions and support programs that encourage people with addiction problems to make healthier decisions about their lives.
Treatment improves health by decreasing preventable deaths, illnesses and injuries, while improving social integration.
Early intervention is a crucial aspect of any treatment system. Treatment seeks to create a continuum of care by recognizing that different drug use patterns must guide treatment strategies. Since there is a chronic relapse pattern with addictions treatment, abstinence is not always the only measure of success.
Treatment interventions must also respond to multiple individual needs as well as particular needs of specific populations.
Treatment services, delivered by Vancouver Coastal health, include:
Currently, there are four levels within withdrawal management ranging from home detox to medical detox. Treatment is most effective when it considers factors unique to each individual and tailors treatment accordingly. Addiction services have been decentralized in Vancouver, with the goals of decreasing acute care demand and improving treatment completion rates.
Currently in Vancouver, alcohol dependence affects over 12,000 people and injection drugs over 9,000 people. Treatment makes sense on both humanitarian as well as economic grounds. According to the March, 2006 Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse report, The Costs of Substance Abuse in Canada 2002, the overall social cost of substance (tobacco, alcohol and illegal drug) abuse in Canada in 2002 was $39.8 billion.
Methadone treatment and counselling has been an area of significant growth in the treatment of heroin addiction in the province. The number of people in BC treated with methadone was 8,319 at the end of 2006.
Vancouver is also one of three Canadian cities that participated in the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI). Supported by the City of Vancouver, the study seeks to determine whether prescription heroin, or a combination of heroin and methadone, might be a better treatment for those who do not respond to methadone alone. Enrolment started in February 2005 and the study results are expected in the summer of 2008.
Meanwhile, Vancouver Coastal Health has increased its treatment budget by about $2 million per year, over the past five years, adding new addiction services, an increased number of detox beds and the development of addiction housing.
The enforcement pillar of Vancouver’s four pillars strategy recognizes the need for peace, public order and safety in the Downtown Eastside and other Vancouver neighbourhoods. History tells us, however, that policing alone is not a solution to Vancouver’s drug problem and that an integrated approach including prevention, treatment, harm reduction and policing has proven to be effective. The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) has formally endorsed the four pillars strategy and its principles.
In 2006, the VPD published its drug policy. It says that the VPD’s mission, as related to drug policy, is to reduce crime, fear of crime, and street disorder while protecting the vulnerable and preserving and protecting life.
The VPD drug policy sees prevention as the most important of the four pillars, but said there is concern that a lack of resources dedicated to this pillar does not allow for large-scale prevention programs. Success in this pillar, it says, would reduce needs in the other three.
The policy says that the VPD will continue to target street and middle-level drug traffickers and producers. Police will be guided by an individual’s behaviour in determining whether or not to lay drug or alcohol possession charges. Police will also target areas frequented by children, such as schools and parks, and other areas where possession or use of drugs could interfere with lawful use of the public areas by members of the community.
The VPD supports the Supervised Injection Site, located on East Hastings Street. It also supports the North American Opiate Medication Initiative, a clinical trial testing whether medically prescribed heroin can successfully attract and retain heroin users who have not benefited from previous repeated attempts at methadone maintenance and abstinence programs. It also supports accessible and immediate treatment for substance abuse on demand, for both adults and youth.
Police officers will continue to work to improve coordination with health services and other agencies that link drug users to immediate medical care, withdrawal management (detox), treatment and other counseling and prevention services. Vancouver police efforts are complemented by Drug Treatment Courts. These provide an alternative to incarceration for non-violent offenders addicted to heroin, cocaine or opiates, to follow treatments such as methadone maintenance.
Feb 17, 2018 – Several other lenders have also been connected to drug trafficking. … Several activist groups pushing for more affordable housing are holding a rally … by as governments stall and do nothing in the face of this unending crisis.
# of people killed by illicit drug overdose