To submit a letter to the editor, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com. Include your first and last name or initials and a last name, and your city of residence. Letters will be edited.

To submit a letter to the editor, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com. Include your first and last name or initials and a last name, and your city of residence. Letters will be edited.

Letter to the Editor: Suffering and overdose death numbers.

Letter to the Editor: Suffering and overdose death numbers.

Editor,

During the first half of 2022 there were at least 1,095 lives lost in B.C. from toxic-drug overdosing, and more than 10,000 such deaths since April of 2016.

Many, if not most, substance (ab)users resort to reducing or temporarily eliminating their immense stress through chemical means, i.e. euphoria until the drug wears off. Often societally overlooked is that intense addiction usually doesn’t originate from a bout of boredom, where a person repeatedly consumed recreationally but became heavily hooked — and homeless, soon after — on an unregulated often-deadly chemical that eventually destroyed their life and even those of loved-ones.

Either way, neglecting people dealing with debilitating drug addiction should never have been an acceptable or preferable political option. But the callous politics typically involved with addiction funding/services likely reflect conservative electorate opposition, however irrational, towards making proper treatment available to low- and no-income addicts.

Tragically and appallingly, it’s as though some people, however precious their souls, can be considered disposable. Even to an otherwise democratic and relatively civilized nation, their worth(lessness) is measured basically by their sober ‘productivity’ or lack thereof. Those people may then begin perceiving themselves as worthless and accordingly live their daily lives more haphazardly. Sadly, many of the chronically addicted don’t really care if they overdose and never wake up. It’s not that they necessarily want to die; it’s that they want their pointless corporeal hell to cease and desist. And I don’t think I’m just splitting hairs with that point.

Though I have not been personally affected by the opioid addiction/overdose crisis in my country, I have suffered enough unrelenting ACE-related hyper-anxiety to have known, enjoyed and appreciated the great release upon consuming alcohol and/or THC. Yet, I once was one of those who, while sympathetic, would look down on those who’d ‘allowed’ themselves to become addicted to alcohol and/or illicit ‘hard’ drugs.

However, upon learning that serious life trauma, notably adverse childhood experiences, is very often behind the addict’s debilitating addiction, I began to understand ball-and-chain self-medicating: The greater the drug-induced euphoria/escape one attains from its use, the more one wants to repeat the experience; and the more intolerable one finds their sober reality, the more pleasurable that escape should be perceived. By extension, the greater one’s mental pain or trauma while sober, the greater the need for escape from reality, thus the more addictive the euphoric escape-form will likely be.

The lasting PTSD mental pain resulting from such trauma is very formidable yet invisibly confined to inside one’s head. It is solitarily suffered, unlike an openly visible physical disability or condition, which tends to elicit sympathy/empathy from others. It can make every day a mental ordeal, unless the turmoil is prescription and/or illicitly medicated.

The preconceived erroneous notion that drug addicts are simply weak-willed and/or have committed a moral crime is, fortunately, gradually diminishing. Also, we now know that Western pharmaceutical corporations intentionally pushed their very addictive and profitable opiates — the real moral crime — for which they got off relatively lightly, considering the resulting immense suffering and overdose death numbers.

Frank Sterle Jr.

White Ro​ck, B.C.