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Changing the language in opioid crisis reporting

Dear editor,

All media and elected officials must change their language when addressing this crisis, which has seen over 4,000 British Colombians and 13,000 Canadians die from a preventable death.

The government must acknowledge that users of all ages and from all walks of life are being poisoned and are at risk of death due to a toxic drug supply.

Our B.C. Coroner’s office recently changed the language used to report deaths due to the opioid crisis. Illicit drug deaths are now reported as due to toxicity, not overdose. British Colombians are not overdosing, they are being poisoned to death.

The source of this poison is organized crime and their toxic drug supply. Our current government drug policy allows organized crime to be the sole provider of drugs to millions of Canadians.

This drug policy is responsible in the past four years for the mass killing of over 13,000 Canadians in communities across our country and has put millions of users at risk of death.

If any other demographic was being poisoned the response would have been immediate. The prohibition of alcohol was not realistic, and neither is our current war on drugs. It’s a war against ourselves that will never be won and is not realistic. We waste billions of tax dollars with no change in our communities and organized crime applauds our drug policy as they continue to profit.

Because of a perceived loss of votes, politicians will defer to speaking about harm reduction services, which are important and have prevented thousands more from dying, but it only targets chronic users.

By not acknowledging and addressing the source and cause of these thousands of deaths, they are not representing all people in their communities. The adolescent user, the millions of recreational users, the users addicted through our medical system and the user like our son, Ryan, who relapsed after eight months of recovery and died on his job site, are never going to a safe consumption site or will not be able to access prescription heroin.

Politicians and media outlets need to refer to these deaths as poisoning from a toxic supply and not an overdose. Then politicians need to provide a safe supply for all users, by removing organized crime as the sole supplier of a substance used daily by millions.

People will continue to die until that happens.

John & Jennifer Hedican

Courtenay B.C.

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