File photo by ADVOCATE staff In an April email, obtained through a freedom of information act request, Coun. Buck Buchanan says to council addicts have long accepted death as an outcome of their lifestyle.

Red Deer councillor says addicts have accepted death as an outcome of lifestyle

Buck Buchanan says “no one wants that to happen”

One Red Deer councillor says addicts have come to accept death, but they would still prefer to live.

In an April email, obtained through a freedom of information act request, Coun. Buck Buchanan says to council addicts have long accepted death as an outcome of their lifestyle.

“Although no one wants that to happen it is a byproduct of our lifestyle,” reads the email.

The email was in response to a news story sent to city council about a mobile supervised consumption site in Grande Prairie. Red Deer council is considering allowing a mobile supervised consumption site to operate in the city.

Buchanan draws on his own experience as an alcoholic and former police officer who worked in a heroin and cocaine unit during his career. He said people in addict circles have accepted one of three outcomes if they continue their lifestyle: being institutionalized — prison or treatment; getting sober or dying.

Stacey Carmichael, Turning Point executive director, said while Buchanan has a lot of lived experience, the three outcomes are too simple an explanation.

Speaking Wednesday, Buchanan said while it may sound harsh, “in the world of addiction, it’s the reality.”

“If you’re an addict, it’s like playing Russian roulette. Eventually you’re going to get the chamber that has the bullet in it. That’s the game you’re playing with,” he said.

Buchanan said while a possible outcome includes death, he’d prefer to have everybody get healthy.

“He has lived experience with alcohol, and I believe his intentions are not bad, maybe simplified a bit,” said Carmichael. “Everybody has a different story as how they came to use substances and because dependent on them. Everybody has a different network available to them if they choose to work towards recovery.”

Carmichael said there are a lot of differences in people’s genetics, traumas, mental health and how their addictions are dealt with.

“Everybody’s journey is a little bit different,” said Carmichael.

Over the weekend, four people in Red Deer died of an overdose, 20 more were prevented with the help of naloxone.

Red Deer council will debate second and third reading of granting a licence to a mobile supervised consumption site at its next council meeting May 28.

Council had debated a permanent supervised consumption site in 2017, deciding in December that the only approved location in the zoning bylaw would be the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

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