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HomeNewsIsland & CoastRe-criminalizing public drug use won't help change or save lives, doc says

Re-criminalizing public drug use won’t help change or save lives, doc says

A North Island doctor says the province’s recent back-tracking on public drug use is still missing the point.

Dr. Alex Nataros says even in his small community of Port Hardy, he sees the tragedies and damaged lives caused by the toxic drug crisis every week. People need support services and addiction treatment, and they still don’t seem to be a government priority, he says.

“We know we have an increasingly toxic drug supply. We know we have significant amounts of diverted ‘safe supply,’ he said. “These are all active issues that, broadly speaking, our government is not managing very well.”

He says it’s good the government is responding to the wishes of the public and moving to stop public disorder, but there’s a lot of uncertainty about what happens now.

“It’s a little bit of a catch-22 in that we need our population to be safe, first and foremost,” he said. “But we need a safe space for people who use drugs to consume, so that they survive.”

The issue isn’t going away, and Nataros says the government must commit to better treatment and recovery options to save lives and address the root causes of the drug crisis.

“We need the government to step up. We can’t have all or none, decriminalization or criminalization. Safe supply, or unsafe supply,” he said. “We need nuance, we need treatment. Ultimately, we need to help people get off these toxic drugs.”

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