THE CITY: There is a right way and a wrong way to talk about opioids

Opinion Aug 13, 2017 by David Nickle City Centre Mirror

After last week, we know one thing: there are ways to, and ways not to, talk about the opioid crisis.

Pivoting, as U.S. President Donald Trump did after his golf club briefing on the American opioid crisis, to threats of global thermonuclear war with North Korea, is one way not to.

Mayor John Tory, meanwhile, showed us how it’s done. 

Toronto, like much of the world, is seeing the horrific effects of opioid addiction — from prescription painkillers to heroin, and of course, fentanyl. That drug, when laced in with heroin, is the likely culprit in countless overdose deaths. 

Two weeks ago, Toronto police issued statements warning people about the presence of the double-barrelled doses of heroin, following four deaths that were likely the result. And it begged the question: are we doing enough to deal with the epidemic?

That is a bad question for any political leader to hear, because of course, it is impossible to do enough. And the deaths indicate that the significant work of Toronto, through its public health department, is manifestly not enough. 

And the crisis is no blip. Over the decade between 2004 and 2015, there’s been a 74 per cent increase in overdose deaths. In the first six months of 2016, there were 87 deaths from opioid overdose.

The crisis is growing — here and everywhere — and it is obviously a crisis of addiction, which is difficult to legislate.

The response is growing, too. Toronto Public Health’s HARM reduction program distributes naloxone kits that can counter the effects of opioids in the moment. Toronto’s fire department has them on hand for emergency response. Toronto police, at the moment, does not. 

And Toronto council has, in concert with the federal and provincial governments, approved three safe injection sites. Getting those going was a long road and we’re not at the end of it yet — the clinics won’t be open until the fall. But, when they’re up and running, they will give addicted people a safe place to inject, where emergency care will be available if things go south.

Tory stepped into this early, convening briefings and meetings, putting himself in front of the issue, advocating continued and further HARM reduction, and championing those clinics.

In some ways, it is not much different from the way that our mayor gets in front of a lot of municipal issues. On Thursday, he announced that work on Dundas Street around Yonge Street would be going faster. The day before, he went to Mount Dennis to talk about the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. 

Opioids are different. The idea of city-funded facilities where people go to inject an illegal substance will stick in the craw of a lot of people; it is easy to whip up opposition to what is really a necessary public health outreach. 

Even though there might not be much more that the city can do to help, right this minute, it’s important for a leader to underline and affirm the work that the city is doing now. It is more than a statement of value; it is a defence of our values.

It is the right way to talk about opioids.

THE CITY: There is a right way and a wrong way to talk about opioids

Opinion Aug 13, 2017 by David Nickle City Centre Mirror

After last week, we know one thing: there are ways to, and ways not to, talk about the opioid crisis.

Pivoting, as U.S. President Donald Trump did after his golf club briefing on the American opioid crisis, to threats of global thermonuclear war with North Korea, is one way not to.

Mayor John Tory, meanwhile, showed us how it’s done. 

Toronto, like much of the world, is seeing the horrific effects of opioid addiction — from prescription painkillers to heroin, and of course, fentanyl. That drug, when laced in with heroin, is the likely culprit in countless overdose deaths. 

Two weeks ago, Toronto police issued statements warning people about the presence of the double-barrelled doses of heroin, following four deaths that were likely the result. And it begged the question: are we doing enough to deal with the epidemic?

That is a bad question for any political leader to hear, because of course, it is impossible to do enough. And the deaths indicate that the significant work of Toronto, through its public health department, is manifestly not enough. 

And the crisis is no blip. Over the decade between 2004 and 2015, there’s been a 74 per cent increase in overdose deaths. In the first six months of 2016, there were 87 deaths from opioid overdose.

The crisis is growing — here and everywhere — and it is obviously a crisis of addiction, which is difficult to legislate.

The response is growing, too. Toronto Public Health’s HARM reduction program distributes naloxone kits that can counter the effects of opioids in the moment. Toronto’s fire department has them on hand for emergency response. Toronto police, at the moment, does not. 

And Toronto council has, in concert with the federal and provincial governments, approved three safe injection sites. Getting those going was a long road and we’re not at the end of it yet — the clinics won’t be open until the fall. But, when they’re up and running, they will give addicted people a safe place to inject, where emergency care will be available if things go south.

Tory stepped into this early, convening briefings and meetings, putting himself in front of the issue, advocating continued and further HARM reduction, and championing those clinics.

In some ways, it is not much different from the way that our mayor gets in front of a lot of municipal issues. On Thursday, he announced that work on Dundas Street around Yonge Street would be going faster. The day before, he went to Mount Dennis to talk about the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. 

Opioids are different. The idea of city-funded facilities where people go to inject an illegal substance will stick in the craw of a lot of people; it is easy to whip up opposition to what is really a necessary public health outreach. 

Even though there might not be much more that the city can do to help, right this minute, it’s important for a leader to underline and affirm the work that the city is doing now. It is more than a statement of value; it is a defence of our values.

It is the right way to talk about opioids.

THE CITY: There is a right way and a wrong way to talk about opioids

Opinion Aug 13, 2017 by David Nickle City Centre Mirror

After last week, we know one thing: there are ways to, and ways not to, talk about the opioid crisis.

Pivoting, as U.S. President Donald Trump did after his golf club briefing on the American opioid crisis, to threats of global thermonuclear war with North Korea, is one way not to.

Mayor John Tory, meanwhile, showed us how it’s done. 

Toronto, like much of the world, is seeing the horrific effects of opioid addiction — from prescription painkillers to heroin, and of course, fentanyl. That drug, when laced in with heroin, is the likely culprit in countless overdose deaths. 

Two weeks ago, Toronto police issued statements warning people about the presence of the double-barrelled doses of heroin, following four deaths that were likely the result. And it begged the question: are we doing enough to deal with the epidemic?

That is a bad question for any political leader to hear, because of course, it is impossible to do enough. And the deaths indicate that the significant work of Toronto, through its public health department, is manifestly not enough. 

And the crisis is no blip. Over the decade between 2004 and 2015, there’s been a 74 per cent increase in overdose deaths. In the first six months of 2016, there were 87 deaths from opioid overdose.

The crisis is growing — here and everywhere — and it is obviously a crisis of addiction, which is difficult to legislate.

The response is growing, too. Toronto Public Health’s HARM reduction program distributes naloxone kits that can counter the effects of opioids in the moment. Toronto’s fire department has them on hand for emergency response. Toronto police, at the moment, does not. 

And Toronto council has, in concert with the federal and provincial governments, approved three safe injection sites. Getting those going was a long road and we’re not at the end of it yet — the clinics won’t be open until the fall. But, when they’re up and running, they will give addicted people a safe place to inject, where emergency care will be available if things go south.

Tory stepped into this early, convening briefings and meetings, putting himself in front of the issue, advocating continued and further HARM reduction, and championing those clinics.

In some ways, it is not much different from the way that our mayor gets in front of a lot of municipal issues. On Thursday, he announced that work on Dundas Street around Yonge Street would be going faster. The day before, he went to Mount Dennis to talk about the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. 

Opioids are different. The idea of city-funded facilities where people go to inject an illegal substance will stick in the craw of a lot of people; it is easy to whip up opposition to what is really a necessary public health outreach. 

Even though there might not be much more that the city can do to help, right this minute, it’s important for a leader to underline and affirm the work that the city is doing now. It is more than a statement of value; it is a defence of our values.

It is the right way to talk about opioids.