One of the facts about writing the columns that I do, is I constantly receive feedback from a great assortment of the people of Red Deer.
I am always encouraged to carry on, but I also field many comments from folks just wanting to unload their frustrations.
The issues are as varied as the people who write, call, text and e-mail.
I have also had many requests to write what some people want to express, because they feel they are not listened to. So for me, it was a relief when a review panel was established so that many of these views and concerns could be heard.
I have a feeling this panel received more than an earful at their first public meeting. If what I have been hearing from different folks is similar to what this panel received, then it’s imperative something has to be done.
For many years, I have stated the needle program in Red Deer should be suspended.
I understand the harm reduction idea, but in my opinion, the original premise was not followed.
The way it was handled just transferred the harm from those we were trying to save to the community at large. When that happens, we should review the effort and change it, rather than just hiding behind the harm reduction argument.
One of the comments I receive is we are enabling, rather than helping these folks. This is something we struggled with all the time at The Kitchen, but the number of folks we actually helped kept us going.
For many of our clients, yes, we were enabling, in it gave them the freedom to spend their money elsewhere.
Another comment I received many times over was every life is valuable and worthy of our efforts to save it. I believe that as well, but to pull a drowning man out of the water into the safety of a boat, only to have him purposely jump right back in over and over again, makes a person reassess what he is doing.
I have been told I do not understand addiction.
As a matter of fact I do, but I learned through experience that addiction is the way of death, not life.
If that seems like a wrong statement, I ask you to consider this.
We are living in a very depressed economy, and with the promises made by the leadership hopefuls, it will become even more so.
For those constantly behind the eight ball, frustration could, before long, make a person want to end the game, hence the option of drugs, alcohol and the street.
Of the many efforts that are ongoing, the one that makes sense is the start up of a Dream Centre, as well as a detox centre with immediate follow up for treatment. Until now, the detox we have is only a temporary dry-out centre. In a few days, the clients leave, only to pick up where they left off on the street.
But now, with the addition of an injection site, they can have a nice safe, warm place to do their thing.
I find in spite of all the arguments pro and con, it still hurts to see any person who was once vibrant and full of life, leave all that behind and then join the street crowd, which often leads to drugs and alcohol.
It is the rest of society that has to come to terms with the choices these folks make, and realize the responsibility is the user’s alone.
I have met too many who have come out of that lifestyle who agree with the issue of this responsibility; also, users are very aware of the choices they are making.
Until there is a change in the public’s viewpoint, I will just continue to field complaints.
Chris Salomons is a retired Red Deer resident with a concern for the downtrodden.