Opinion Letters

Letter: A life is a life

Re Nothing is free, letter to the editor

Every day, two Canadians die from opioids and this number is steadily increasing.

Naloxone is a medication that temporarily suspends opioid overdoses. Free naloxone kits are now available to Ontarians at risk of, or likely to witness, opioid overdoses. This includes youth experimenting with drugs, first responders, addicts, and those managing pain. People living in poverty are especially affected, being more likely to suffer from addiction and less likely to afford the life-saving kits. This is just one small part of Ontario's Strategy to Prevent Opioid Addiction and Overdose, alongside other such measures as delisting high-strength opioids from the Ontario Drug Benefit and expanding the Fentanyl Patch for Patch program.

Some say taxpayer money would be better spent on those who “value the lives they were gifted with.” Sadly, this is one of many misunderstandings of addiction. I wish to set the record straight.

Addiction is a legally classified disability and medically classified disease — agreed upon by legal and medical scholars alike. Addicts face stigma and discrimination on a daily basis because, like all mental illnesses, addiction is an invisible disability that cannot be identified or understood as easily as a broken leg.

Like most chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, the disease of addiction can only be managed, not cured, and relapse is common — be it an addict relapsing on coke or a diabetic relapsing on Coke. Battles will be lost, but so long as the addict is still breathing, the war is not yet over. In fact, many recovering addicts credit surviving an overdose with their sobriety; rock bottom became the solid foundation upon which their lives could be rebuilt.

Naloxone kits are often compared to EpiPens as “just in case” life-saving measures. No one chooses to be allergic/addicted or overdose/go into anaphylactic shock. Where the two diverge is addiction has a psychological component — a compulsive obsession with using that which is killing them. Contrarily, I have yet to see someone with a wasp allergy battle their urge to sit on a wasp’s nest. This is not because they value their life any more than an addict; it is just the nature of the respective diseases.

Getting into an analysis of which lives are more or less worthy of our tax dollars is a dangerous game. Our efforts are much better served advocating for the life-saving treatments we wish to see covered in the future. After all, working with one another, rather than against one another, is the Canadian way.

For your free naloxone kit, visit ontario.ca/page/get-naloxone-kits-free.

For 24/7 addiction resources, call Telecare (no caller ID) at 705-325-9534.

Kristy N. Fleming

Orillia



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