LETTER: Climate of entitlement exists among Maple Ridge addicts

The TIMES welcomes your thoughts. - TIMES  Illustration
The TIMES welcomes your thoughts.
— image credit: TIMES Illustration

Dear Editor,

The low barrier model is, of course, being touted as the cutting edge and “evidenced based” approach to homelessness and addiction, with countless papers and studies that are referenced.

The data seems to be mostly statistical and academic in nature with a bias in the interpretation of the data.

The actual observable evidence to me clearly suggests this has not been working.

The more resources and accommodation provided, for those not wanting to change, the more there seems to be a climate of entitlement and a decrease in motivation to change.

It also is based on a premise of lack of personal responsibility for such things as rules and expectations.

I recently was at a talk by one of the Fraser Health sponsored “experts” (a counsellor from the addictions programs) and he was pointing out the social environment and connections that drug users have, and how this re-enforces their addiction.

I totally agree, but the irony is that he does not seem to see the fact that the low barrier resources have become a part of this whole dynamic.

The fact is, that the idea of collecting and providing resources for people to use drugs and have their drug community within the larger community, yet remaining separate, is clearly leading to more and more facilitation and growth of the addicted populace.

I was looking at the stats from the housing agencies that show a real steady increase in homelessness in the Greater Vancouver area, and specifically Maple Ridge, in the last 10 years since they have been tracking it.

As well they have been making the housing, and other resources to make things easier, the major focus for at least as long.

There is a denial that it is evidence of the approach not being effective, rather attempting to suggest that it is somehow just a matter of more need.

The Vancouver Police had released a statement that it was their observation that there was an influx of people coming in from other areas because of the amount of resources to maintain the addiction lifestyle.

I am looking around at Maple Ridge and seeing that, as the recent advertisement from Action Maple Ridge shows, there have already been a lot of efforts like the proposed shelter being done in Maple Ridge and we can see the clear evidence that it has just made things worse.

There is no other Walmart where there is a sharps container (seen overflowing in one photo) than in Maple Ridge (That I am aware of).

The Tim Hortons has to close early because of drug addicts abusing the bath rooms.

A person I work with knows a teen that has had people overdosing in the bathroom of the McDonalds at 228th while on her shift. I am sure there are many other examples like these.

There is a need for creating a space where it is not normalized to be using drugs and recycling stolen materials and goods to buy drugs, to be made more and more comfortable with being addicted under the false premise that it is some sort of medical condition or state that a person has no control to make choices to change.

It is not too much to expect some sort of structure and effort to change to be made, and pour resources into that process.

If there is to be yet another resource for the homeless and drug addicted crowd in Maple Ridge it should be in an area that is not plopped in the urban sprawl and where there is easy access to drug connections, things to steal, and the general infrastructure that these locations in towns and residential areas provide.

If we are to be low barrier, it should be to be low barrier with employment, which is a great idea, and low barrier with the actual process of treatment (which currently involves a minimum 18 page referral form).

I can say that this is a crucial time to approach this carefully and that we not take the “easy” approach of just throwing money at facilitating a way of life that is destroying the lives of the drug addicted, but also eroding the rest of towns and cities with it.

Noah Liguori, Maple Ridge

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