The bottleneck of subsidised Rehab
I have been in the field of substance abuse, helping others since 1998. I have also struggled with my addiction to illicit drugs, including hallucinogens. I have also now been drug and alcohol-free for over 20 years. Throughout my career, I have seen almost every type of substance abuse in our current society. From cough syrup abuse, animal tranquillisers to huffing propane and any other poison. Having worked in a successful private drug rehab in Canada as its case manager for close to 12 years gave me a unique platform to observe the addiction issue up close.
The CBC Report
This text is not about the addict and their condition. This is about the social-economical-political problems surrounding the issue. In line with the report of September 11, 2016, written by Yvette Brend & Manjula Dufresne – CBC News* BC, on the existing problem families face when seeking help. I quote: “Wait times can be as long as six months for the places in high demand, but many rehabs won’t tell you that. They just say a bed is just coming up. The addict must call in every day and try to snag it. Mothers say that can translate into weeks, even months. A call and a failure every day.”
Why is it this way?
One can ask themselves, “why is it this way?” There is no simple, reasonable response. The problem is not just in BC; you can see this across the country. As a counsellor of a referral & consultations service, we hear this daily. After a while, one begins to question what is wrong with the system. I decide to do my own investigation by contacting various doctors, physicians, social workers, including public addiction counsellors. I intended to come up with a common denominator to the issue of public addiction treatment bottlenecks. There is a need in society for fast, effective, and professional help with substance abuse. My questions were similar to what the CBC reporters asked, although I wasn’t posing as a parent. The responses I got were identical.
Is Addiction Treatment viewed as Important?
I was able to conclude some interesting facts. One of which is on a political/financial level. It was explained to me that each year there is a national budget. So much for education, so much for defence, so much for healthcare, etc. Okay, let’s look at the healthcare budget. The federal government take the billions issued for healthcare and distributes it to the provinces. Some of the funds are available for new hospitals, medical machinery, etc. Most of which are expected to have a return. They are assets. Treatment of addiction is seen as an expenditure, not an investment. So, the lowest funds are distributed to these. The same goes with the legal system, meaning incarceration, arrest, legal aid, etc. No return, only expenditure.
One can see that with fewer funds, you get less service. Our leaders do not realise that creating good affordable detox and rehab with easy access is worthwhile. They do not see that achieving results with addiction for the less fortunate might just be an investment. A recovered drug or alcohol abuser now becomes a productive member of society. Becomes a “taxpayer”, lowers crime, puts less stress on the legal system, fewer broken homes, etc. That is the budget and economics viewpoint. There is another side, a bit more sinister, though.
Social Betterment & HRI (Harm Reduction International)
Social aspects include the introduction of Harm Reduction in the early 1980s. Though there are good aspects of this approach, the other side has taken us by a storm. Consider the pharmaceutical drugs that are being prescribed to treat addiction. Halting the increase of beds and qualified staff per province leaves many in need, waiting at the doorsteps for help. It’s not long before a struggling addict begins to crave and enters the stage of withdrawal. Harm reduction opens the door to solutions to curb the symptoms and give them a chance to stay strong enough until a bed is open. After 30 years of its inception, the harm reduction philosophy has, in many cases, created unsafe city zones. Also, who wants to be a lifetime member of the methadone club?
The problem still exists that people cannot enter a low cost, efficient, high care detox and rehab. So, I ask, do we have a reduction of harm? Or is it just a billion-dollar revenue product for the pharmaceutical companies?