Phil Western, an addiction counsellor at Together We Can, shares his thoughts with CTV News on the causes surrounding the fentanyl crisis in British Columbia, and some possible solutions.
Western claims the dramatic rise in fentanyl use and subsequent overdoses is most likely a “matter of economics”. The use of fentanyl in street level drugs provides bigger profits and lines the pockets of drug dealers and drug suppliers. The ingredients needed to make the fentanyl can be too easily accessed and can be developed in a lab; unlike the straight heroin that it is often replacing.
In terms of solution to this crisis, Phil feels that the current Safe Injection Site in Downtown Vancouver; Insite, cannot handle the demand created by the large numbers of intravenous drug users that need this life saving service – putting their lives at risk on a daily basis. Western feels that addiction is still being seen mostly as a moral or criminal issue, rather than a community health issue. Changing the public perception and encouraging our elected officials to increase funding, would go along way to immediately save lives.
Regarding naloxone, the drug that is administered to treat drug overdoses, Western explains that its availability is limited, and that the right people don’t have enough access to it. “We need more overdose kits”, he explains.
As a front line worker, Phil Western is saddened and surprised at the amount of drug addicted individuals in our province knowingly or unknowingly using fentanyl. He feels that the term “crisis” is completely justified.