Does anyone else think it's weird that in a country where medicine is socialized, addiction, despite the fact it is a potentially fatal disease, remains a condition that treatment isn't guaranteed for?
We all know the numbers: overdose has caused over 11,500 Canadian deaths in the last 3 years.
In British Columbia, you're 17 times more likely to die from an overdose than from a homicide. Quite rightly, Canadians think these numbers are unacceptable.
But what are we willing to do about it? Addiction treatment remains a distant priority. If you have the money, as 25-40 percent of Canadians do, you can quickly get into a treatment program that'll cost you anywhere between $5,000 to $80,000 per month. If you work for a union, your union will organize you getting into treatment. If you're extremely poor, with the threshold being that you qualify for Social Assistance, you'll get on a waitlist. A waitlist that'll take you up to 3 months.
What about the 50 percent of Canadians who are living paycheque to paycheque? Recent studies showed that nearly 50 percent of Canadians would be in serious financial trouble if an unexpected bill over $200 came up. Canadians are carrying more debt that ever before.
People should not be forced into the unbearable choice of insurmountable debt and saving their child's life. Frequently, the people who are forced to take on massive debt to finance treatment are the same people who have kept their heads down for decades on end happily paying their taxes.
How Is This Not A Healthcare Issue?
As most of you know, healthcare is a provincial issue. The federal government doles out federal tax revenue to the provinces so they can pursue their own healthcare agendas. Provinces decide what they want to cover, how much they want to allocate towards new contracts for their workers, what type of Pharmacare they want to offer, so on and so on.
The thing that has long been overlooked is the fact that recovery treatment has gone underfunded. Too long have we tilted the balance towards harm reduction exclusively. Harm reduction, while effective at slowing down overdoses, does not always help people get back on their feet, regain their dignity, find a job and become a self-sufficient, tax-paying member of society.
We need to prioritize empowerment. We need to prioritize giving people the opportunity to snatch their life back and become their best selves.
The British Columbian government allocates a touch over $20 Billion, or 20 thousand million dollars, each year towards healthcare. To ostensibly prioritize Mental Health and Addiction, they recently split off a brand new Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction. Unfortunately, the budget allocated to this new ministry has fallen far short in terms of providing care for everyone who needs it. The new ministry is set to receive a touch above $70 Million this year.
The sad part of this entire equation is that treatment actually pays for itself. The median income in Canada hovers around $50,000 per year. If 1 out of 50 participants in treatment ends up staying sober for 20 years, the taxes they'll pay will cover the costs of treatment for everyone.
We need to prioritize giving people their lives back.
What TWC Is Doing
News is out that overdose deaths could finally be on the decline in 2019, but there are still more than 3 BC residents dying each day.
At TWC, we are at the forefront of individual recovery. We have nothing to do with public policy, but we do play a part in the implementation of public policy. We are a non-profit operating in a mostly for-profit industry. Not to comment on whether social healthcare is good or right (although the author personally likes it), addiction has managed to remain the only potentially fatal disease that treatment is not guaranteed for. If we accept that addiction is a disease, should prompt treatment not be available in all circumstances?
To fight against the trend of lower-middle-class individuals being too wealthy for welfare but too poor to afford rehab falling through the cracks, Together We Can has instituted our Fallen Sons Memorial Fund. The FSMF is a scholarship that pays for vulnerable individuals to enter evidence-based treatment and be taken care of from start to finish. Each year TWC supports over 100 individuals getting the care they need.
Our Gala, which is taking place on November 9th at the Rocky Mountaineer, is primarily in support of our Fallen Sons Memorial Fund. We need donors to continue with the life-changing work we engage in.
For more information about what we do and how you can help, click here.