Ottawa’s opioid crisis: Whose kid has to die?

Have you ever wondered whose kid has to die before we target the tsunami of death flooding our city? Would the 40 dead Ottawans in 2016 or 64 more in 2017 suffice perhaps? Or would it take one of our politician’s youngsters to succumb, having been sucked into the cesspools of drug misuse, overdosing on a substance laced with fentanyl?

The Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) of 2017, reports alarming statistics: 10 per cent of students in grades 7-12 self reported opioid use, 11 per cent nonmedical opioid use and 14 per cent used prescription drugs. Ottawa teenagers self reported 11.3 per cent use of nonmedical opioids and 9.9 per cent used illicit drugs. The OSDUHS study of 1400 randomly selected Ottawa high school students, states that emergency room visits for opioid overdoses skyrocketed between 2008 from 103 to 370 in 2017.

Opioid overdoses rates per 1000,000 changed from 11.9 in 2008 to 37.1 in 2017. Unintentional drug related deaths are spiralling. The Public Health Agency of Canada reports swelling numbers of opioid deaths in Canada, as well.

Bruce Deachman writes that, "The bodies are piling up and the opioid epidemic in Ottawa is a crisis that will not go away" (Ottawa Citizen, 21/11/19). There has been a six-fold increase in drug overdose fatalities in ten years. It is an "exploding emergency that communities, lawmakers, healthcare professionals and families have so far been powerless to even contain, let alone eliminate.”

The foxes are in the hen house parents! Many more smell the blood and their numbers will escalate. So, what are we doing about it?

The Ontario Catholic District School Board website reports it is working with Ottawa Health and Ottawa Police, and that parents need to be informed and talk to their kids.

Research efforts gather statistics. Public health professionals focus on education and awareness. Services are in play to treat users and harm reduction strategies are popular. We have helplines, support and treatment centres and drug management initiatives. But most people working in the field concur, with Ottawa Inner City Health executive director says we have a “teacup to put out a house fire.”

Why are our leaders not doing better to protect our young? Why do teenagers know who the druggies and dealers are in our schools, and can find them faster than they can find the water fountain? Did anyone hear a federal leader mention plans for obliterating this deadly scourge in last year’s election? Did anyone hear it being a priority in the provincial election two years ago? Andrew Coyne summarized Ottawa City Council 2019 priorities in an article entitled ‘Ottawa the Inept’ (Ottawa Citizen, 27/11/ 2019), which included road snow closures, public transit, use of Lansdowne land, a library, LRT, and the addition to the Chateau Laurier.

Yet, "they all protect themselves with very tight security when they gather!" (Kelly Egan, Ottawa Citizen, 28/01/20).

Are our leaders unaware of the ruthless emissaries of death in our schools, our workplaces and our streets?

Do they just not know what to do about it? Or do they just not care because it is not yet their kids who are caught in the nefarious jaws of the drug culture and lose their shot at healthy happy productive lives?

What is it leaders? Why are we seemingly not rounding up the troops and marching on City Hall, Queen’s Park and Parliament Hill, demanding the drug crisis be a top priority?  Why are we letting leaders away with using their time and our money prioritizing issues such as language, online learning and potholes, when our children are under constant deadly assault, dying in increasing numbers, while they fail to attack and take out the enemy?

Whose child has to die? Whose child has to be ravaged and forever lost to parents because of drugs? Will yours or mine do it? How many and whose kids have to die, before we pull up the drawbridge, fill the moat with alligators and create a safe drug free culture within the walls of our castle?

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