Thursday, January 26, 2017


So many ordinary sensible citizens keep wondering and asking why there are so few treatment beds for addicts and in particular for young addicts.

The entire explanation was revealed yesterday.

A senior bureaucrat at Vancouver Coastal Health said it and it was reported in Metro Newspaper.

Here it is.

Wait for it, cause it's a doozy.




Addiction is not a choice.

Yes, when you pick up your glass of gin or wine at 8:05 a.m., there is actually a secret mysterious devil creature forcing your elbow to bend.

When you turn into the liquor store parking lot instead of picking up the girls after school, it's the fault of those new Nissan SUV's that are pre-programmed to always go to the booze outlet.


You see, it's beyond your control and therefore, because you cannot help yourself, self-help, like A.A. and N.A. and C.A, are all out of the question. They don't work. Fuggetit!

What you really need, you poor out of control slob, is a doctor and a pharmacist to keep you in clover.

In other words, you need the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority to manage your unmanageable life. And we will do that by legalizing all substances and giving you free doses as you like to keep you quiet.


Nice philosophy. And helpful.

Well, pardon us if some of us still cling to the peculair belief that human values, thinking and actions are choices.

We recognize full well that there are powerful psychological and emotional mechanisms driving us towwards certain choices.

But as we have now witnessed many thousands (and heard of many millions) of people who learned about themselves and then MADE THE CHOICE to not pick up their poison ever again, often in spite of bad history, well we have come to believe that



The Health Authorities are starting from the entirely wrong place.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Here is an excellent piece from Lawrie Mcfarlane of The Province newspaper published the other day and sent to us by our good friends Mark Steinkampf and Al Arsenault of the Odd Squad.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

REHAB FACILITIES NEEDED NOW MORE THAN EVER By: Chuck Doucette and David Berner Opinion in the Winnipeg Free Press June 15, 2016

RCMP at the Behavioral Health Foundation in late May.

Thanks to Jessica Hadley, President of the Child & Youth Care Workers’ Association of Manitoba for her excellent, timely and well-balanced commentary (Fear, frustration the norm for youth-care workers, June 7).

Ms. Hadley was writing about the May 29 attack on two workers — including a Red River College student finishing her practicum — committed by two teenage residents at the Behavioural Health Foundation’s facility in Selkirk.

The workers were viciously assaulted with a baseball bat and billiard balls and suffered serious injuries — the student is now blind in one eye — and trauma. The purpose of this obscenity, it’s believed, was to steal a truck and go party.

Over the years, BHF staff have been threatened and assaulted and there have been attempts to burn down the facility.Residents assault each other in every way imaginable and, in some cases, quite unimaginable ways.

But this is the most extreme and dreadful incident in BHF’s 45 years operating in Manitoba.

The male youth facility — which had been scheduled to close for good on June 25 — typically housed between 10 and 14 high-risk youths. Staff were scheduled at a ratio of one to four youths, except on overnight shifts, which met the licensing and accreditation standards. Many group homes have staff with considerably less.

The residents are volatile youths who come from families torn apart by generations of violence, drug and alcohol abuse, criminality and scant regard for what most people would consider basic human values.

For reasons unclear to anyone at this point, there has been a steadily increasing unwillingness to continue funding and sending at-risk youths to this wonderful program. In 2014, the BHF in Selkirk was told it was going to be shut down because of funding. In fact, the only reason why the facility remained open was so that the Red River College student could get the practicum hours needed in order to obtain her diploma.

To be clear, this kind of violent behaviour is rarely seen in a large group setting, normally the situation at this facility, where they would be surrounded by a peer group of 10 or12 others and a full complement of staff. Because of funding cuts, these two very wound-up boys and their dark histories of violence, addictions and social instabilities were only residents left.

What was BHF supposed to do, throw them out on the street? This is the work BHF has done so well for so many years with singular dedication and knowledge.

And BHF is not alone. Courageous programs across the country dare to bring youths such as this pair into their facilities and dare to embrace them and lead them into a new way of looking at the world. Acceptance, camaraderie and new concepts are thrown at these kids. "Do unto others" or "R-E-S-P-E-C-T." or "Be the Best You!" Young people who have little or no experience with being loved, or even vaguely liked, will present walls and barricades. They are suspicious of good vibes or "square" values. Their lives have been lived in chaos and it is chaos to which they naturally drift. Now they’re being asked to live with peace, reasonableness, kindness and caring for other people. Really?

One of the oldest and best youth programs in the country introduced in a rural setting in British Columbia a few years ago. Ribbons were cut, photos were taken, the funding established and then the local health authorities and the provincial government of the day did everything in their power to stymie the work.

Let’s say a 17-year-old girl says one morning, "Dad, I want to get clean." What’s the window of opportunity? About five seconds.

Reason says that father and daughter get in the car and head for the facility. But health authorities decided that the person in crisis has to be interviewed — several times — in Vancouver before she could even be considered for admission to the rural program. As if these bureaucrats have the faintest notion of how to work with kids in that situation.

This recent event at BHF is awful. But understand that those working on the front lines with volatile people begin with a foundation of trust, love and camaraderie tempered by some serious street smarts.
Today, Behavioural Health Foundation’s main facility in St. Norbert houses some 100 men, women and children, runs school programs, a daycare and myriad other activities, including sophisticated and accredited therapy and counseling.

It has been doing this successfully for more than four decades.

As conscious and conscientious citizens, we need not look far to realize we need BHF now more than ever.

Let us recognize the tragedy for what it is and not make the mistake of throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Chuck Doucette is the president and David Berner is the executive director of Drug Prevention Network Canada.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

METHADONE is a con job - an unholy alliance between addicts and doctors. For the addicts, it means no need to change; for the doctors it mean serious change in the bank account.

By , Special to Postmedia Network
First posted:

How could this medical and social disaster ever be allowed to happen? If authorities had told me that Ontario, just one Canadian province, was treating 400 addicts in methadone clinics, I’d believe them. But, the actual number is 42,000. But how many of these addicts need methadone? And what is the solution for this madness?

Dr. Theodore Dalrymple is not an arm-chair commentator on addiction. Rather, he’s an internationally renowned expert, a British psychiatrist, and prison doctor who has treated thousands of addicts over years.

In his book, Romancing Opiates, he writes that heroin is not as highly addictive as claimed, and withdrawal not as difficult as treating an alcoholic. He claims, “It’s a myth that treating the heroin addiction 'cold turkey' causes withdrawal symptoms that are virtually unbearable.”

He adds that, after witnessing withdrawal symptoms in thousands of patients, “they are hardly worse than the flu. Moreover, the sudden withdrawal of heroin is not dangerous.”

To prove his point Dalrymple reports that researchers examined the records of thousands of addicts between 1875 and 1968 who had been taken off heroin. They did not find a single death from withdrawal symptoms.

Dalrymple makes another poignant observation. He has observed addicts laughing and having a great time in his waiting room. But once inside his consulting office they acted as if they’re “in extremis.” And when he points out this abrupt change in health, they have admitted they were “blagging.”
He cites another experiment that shows how addiction is largely a myth. Morphine addicts, who believed they were being given morphine, but had only received water, reported their withdrawal symptoms had disappeared!

Dalrymple claims that the use of methadone has had a low success rate. The result is that addicts end up being treated indefinitely with medication at great cost to society. And he says doctors have a long history of treating trivial conditions dangerously with drugs such as methadone.

This prison expert says there is nothing an addict likes more than to continue his personal way of life and place the weight of responsibility for his situation somewhere other than on his own decisions.
So Dalrymple contends that a useless medical bureaucracy has been established to deal with addicts. After all, why would doctors and staff want this merry-go-round to end when it’s become financially lucrative? In effect, he says, doctors and administrators need the addicts more than the addicts need them!

I couldn’t agree more that North America has followed an asinine approach to heroin addiction that’s causing major public health problems for this country. Years ago, I interviewed Singapore authorities about how they had attacked the illegal use of drugs.

They accused North Americans of being “irresponsibly permissive.” This message was dispensed on my flight even before landing. A handout card to passengers read, “Death to drug dealers.”

Singapore authorities told me that the illegal use of heroin had been rampart in the country, and destroying young lives. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew decided to stop this trend. He realized you should never show your teeth unless you’re prepared to bite.

Criminals quickly got his message when drug dealers were hanged.

I recently read that Alberta has a rat patrol and has been rat-free for 65 years. The Albertan policy is to take no prisoners. What a shame North America doesn’t use the same approach for humans. I’m referring to human rats that pedal illegal drugs which trigger health problems, misery and crime at a huge cost to society.

Congratulations to Dr. Dalrymple his research. So I believe he would agree that the majority of addicts would be quickly cured by sending them to northern Canada to chop wood. They would be happy to return south without the methadone. As Aristotle remarked two thousand years ago, “punishment is a form of medicine.”

I’m sure this column will be criticized by do-gooders that it’s a mortal sin to to deny methadone to addicts. But I believe health care dollars could be better utilized.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Brian Hutchinson: Finding used drug needles in public spaces has become the new normal for Vancouver

Dirty needles found near children's playground in Vancouver's West End

VANCOUVER — You have found a used needle, in one of the last places you ever expected — or wanted — to see one. On the playground. Inside the schoolyard. On the beach. Now what?

Shiloh Sukkau was shocked at first. Then resigned. Now she’s upset. Same with Joel Reid and Jessica Leung, and now they’re speaking out.

Three people, unknown to each other, living and working in different parts of the city. Finding dirty needles in public places. Kids’ spaces.

In this permissive city, where open drug use is sadly common, people have finally reached a boiling point. They’re fed up with finding dangerous materials left behind by intravenous drug users, whose numbers in Vancouver exceed 12,000, according to local health authorities.

Dirty needles, called “sharps,” along with cooking gear, water ampoules and rubber ties are the most common detritus.

The problem isn’t confined to Vancouver’s drug-infested Downtown Eastside. Used needles with trace amounts of heroin, cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, prescription opioids and blood are turning up across the city.

On one Vancouver street corner, residents were recently confronted with discarded sharps and, on a wall next to them, the image of a happy face, drawn in blood.

Here’s the brutal irony, an unintended consequence. Millions of needles are handed out in Vancouver every year, more than in any other Canadian city. Free needle exchanges funded by taxpayers and private donors are considered an effective form of harm reduction; clean, disposable “rigs” can help prevent the spread of such diseases as HIV and hepatitis.

Most of the used needles from exchange programs are collected and disposed of properly. But every year, more than 100,000 needles are carelessly discarded outside, creating hazards for the rest of us. Last year, the number of needles recovered outside was a staggering 250,732, according to Vancouver Coastal Health.

Shiloh Sukkau is a young mother with an eight-year-old child attending school in Vancouver’s West End, adjacent to the downtown core. On Saturday, she found a used needle lying in a children’s garden that she and other parents built in a city park. Her daughter’s school, Lord Roberts Annex, takes up about one-quarter of the same block.

Sukkau had previously found needles left in and around the schoolyard. On each occasion she called a local social-service agency, the Portland Hotel Society (PHS), for help.

The PHS has a needle exchange and recovery program and will send someone to collect used rigs from city parks and other places. The City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Park Board and other agencies also offer needle-recovery programs and daily “sweeps.”  Clearly, though, these efforts aren’t enough.
It’s really upsetting, especially because I’ve been trying to encourage … children to use the (garden) space
For Sukkau, finding a needle in the school’s outdoor garden plot was a tipping point. “It’s really upsetting, especially because I’ve been trying to encourage other parents, teachers and children to
use the (garden) space,” she says. “Now I’m not sure it’s a good idea.”
The morning after her discovery, Sukkau’s partner found eight more needles in the same garden, which children had recently planted with vegetables.

Enough, they said. Sukkau went public this week, contacting media and local politicians, asking why residents are forced to deal themselves with Vancouver’s drug-use problem. With few exceptions, no one in a position of authority or elected office got back to her.

Joel Reid teaches music at a Montessori school not far from Vancouver’s False Creek. He often takes his young students to a nearby park but first, he has to inspect the place for needles.

“It’s become a hot spot,” Reid says.

He has also encountered people shooting up outside his school; in those cases, he asks the drug users to move on. “They are very compliant, most of them,” says Reid.

Fortunately, he’s not aware of any needle-related injuries sustained by students. “The kids are pretty aware. I’ll show them a needle if I find one, and warn them not to touch one if they find one themselves.”
Jessica Leung and her family moved to an Eastside neighbourhood last year. She finds discarded needles as many as four times a week. “Places that families frequent are being overrun with sharps,” she says.

The greater, underlying problem, she feels, is “prolific drug use.”

Like Sukkau and Reid, she’s found such agencies as the PHS helpful at collecting sharps. But the situation persists, and, she says, it’s getting worse.

Some have suggested installing plastic needle disposal boxes on street corners, in parks and inside public washrooms. Leung and the others aren’t convinced they would solve anything.
Would drug users who currently drop their needles on the ground suddenly change their behaviour and put their needles safely inside a box? Would a homeowner want a needle box placed outside their house? Fat chance of that.

There is no simple solution. In Vancouver, scattered, dirty needles are approaching “normal” status, sad facts of city life. It seems we’re stuck with that.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


A survey about Recovery is being conducted on behalf of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) and the National Recovery Advisory Committee (NRAC.)

Please read the short preamble and do the survey to the degree you feel comfortable. Every little bit helps.