This week marked the five year of another provincial health emergency, declared by health officer Dr. Perry Kendall in response to rising overdose deaths in BC. In 2016 the annual death toll from drug use was 991 and was steadily climbing until 2019 presented a hopeful decline. Then the pandemic struck and a record-breaking 1,724 people were lost to drug related deaths 2020. In comparison there have been 1,515 lives lost to Covid in BC over the past 14 months.
On average, 5 people, teenagers to seniors, continue to die each day in BC from drug toxicity, mostly linked to fentanyl. Reduced to a statistical number, it is too tempting to dehumanize the crisis, or dismiss it as a criminal problem instead of a medical and mental health concern. We become numb to the reality these are precious individuals, who God knit together in their mother’s womb. Where are the public condolences at press conferences for their grieving friends and families? Will our faith community offer the compassionate embrace, the words of comfort and hope so desperately needed? Can we do more to support prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery? Let’s keep this as a priority prayer point, asking the Spirit to replace our judgment with tenderness and awe at the hardships people carry. May He show us better ways to offer hospitality and healing to those battling addiction.
May we be the people who champion God’s promise in Jeremiah 30:17 “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds’, declares the Lord, ‘because you are called an outcast, for whom no one cares.”