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Concerns about opioids in Hamilton should be focused on addiction

There was a discussion in a recent special report by the CBC about the rise in opioid use in Hamilton. Though police are treating incidents of prescription drug abuse as they would any other type of crime, the real story is on why there is a growing dependence on these drugs. What many people in Ontario fail to remember whenever they read stories of individuals being arrested on drug charges is that most of these individuals are heavily addicted to drugs. Many of them don't need time in jail or to pay heavy fines, they need drug rehabilitation services and a supportive environment to resolve what issues led to their addictions.

A 23-year-old woman who spent years using morphine and hydromorphine told the CBC that she would have "sold the clothes off [her] back just to get it." Her drug addiction was so severe that she resorted to stealing just to buy her drugs. Moreover, it was not as if she started to use drugs one day on a whim; either mental health issues or some kind of traumatic event was what pushed her into opioids.

Sadly, she wasn't the only individual the CBC covered. Another 23-year-old had a similar background of trauma or mental health issues, leading him to start using cocaine at 13. For seven years he had a crack and cocaine addiction until he started using heroin and oxycodone. Though he is now clean, the young man spent about nine years addicted to drugs. According to him, the people who use drugs don't do it for fun, they do it because they believe they will die without having drugs in their systems.

So, remember, when someone is arrested on drug charges, it is likely overshadowing a serious drug addiction.

Source: CBC, "Prescription painkiller abuse exploding in Hamilton," Adam Carter, 12 Nov. 2013

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