Complacency is never the right response

Opioid drug use might be more common, but we should never let the tragedy of addiction become commonplace.

There’s that story about a frog in a pot of water: the temperature of the water is increased so slowly that the frog doesn’t know what’s happening until it’s too late.

It’s a grim little allegory, but one I couldn’t help thinking about after chatting with a former co-worker on the weekend.

She was asking about the impact of the opioid crisis on Chilliwack. She said she had heard it had grown much worse since she left.

I tried to allay her concerns, but quickly found I couldn’t even convince myself. This daily reality has turned the unusual into the ordinary. What might have seemed shocking before is now sadly familiar.

It was only a couple of years ago that a discarded needle in our parking lot was so unique I photographed it.

Since then, needles abound – not just around my workplace, but throughout the community. They are the telltales of a larger problem that has gripped all of North America.

Hardly a day passes where we don’t read something about the proliferation of narcotics that kill three to four people a day in B.C. In fact, so common are these stories it takes something particularly tragic – like the recent overdose death of a teenager in Victoria – to shake us.

But what a frightening thought: that the drip, drip, drip of statistics eventually makes us deaf to the waves of stories behind those numbers.

An incident outside our office a couple weeks ago got me thinking.

Four people hunkered down in the alley next to our office. As we watched from the window above, they began sorting through what was likely stolen merchandise. (Who carries around several unopened packages of dryer beads?)

Then they did something else. The couple on the end shared a crack pipe. The man in the middle injected a needle into his arm. And the person on the right…, well that took me a while to figure out. At first, I thought he was looking at himself in the broken mirror he pulled from his pack. However, after watching the video (yes, I shot video; I’m a journalist), I realized he was using the mirror to locate a vein in his neck to inject the syringe he held in his other hand.

It was a sad tableau.

But it was made sadder by my initial jaded reaction.

Obviously, the water in the pot was getting warmer.

Complacency is a dangerous thing because it leads to acceptance. And the tragedy of someone injecting street drugs into their neck on a sunny afternoon in an alley outside your office window should never become the ordinary.

Sure, there are those who have lost all patience with the addicted. Their anger is understandable, given the tangential impacts of crime and homelessness.

But anger won’t fix the problem. Action will – action like a new 46-unit supportive housing project which moved closer to reality in Chilliwack this week. Or the new temporary modular shelter units opening at the Salvation Army. Or the addictions treatment facility for youth that Fraser Health will build in Chilliwack next year.

These are important steps that would never happen if we let our desire for change be dulled by apathy and acceptance.

Greg Knill is editor of the Chilliwack Progress

Just Posted

VIDEO: Hundreds of volunteers collect, wrap toys in Surrey at Sikh elementary school

Guru Nanak Free Kitchen, Sikh Academy partner together on annual toy drive

Road safety plan in the works for Surrey

Council to consider hosting ‘Vision Zero’ summit in new year

City of Surrey looks to reduce building permit wait times

Staff targeting a 10-week average processing time

Surrey considers 75% discount on senior rec passes, drop-in admission

Council to vote Monday on proposal to deeply discount rates for residents over 70

‘A promise is a promise’: Cloverdale lantern festival opens, two months late

After months of delays due to permit issues and uncooperative weather, Art of Lights finally opens

MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey, Langley and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Man dies after falling from B.C. bridge

Intoxicated man climbed railing, lost his balance and fell into the water below

Hundreds attend Hells Angels funeral in Maple Ridge

Body of Chad John Wilson found last month face-down under the Golden Ears Bridge.

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Gas prices to climb 11 cents overnight in Lower Mainland

Hike of 17 cents in less than 48 hours due to unexpected shutdown of Washington state pipeline

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

B.C. fire chief pleads with Ottawa for traumatic stress support

Campbell River fire chief Thomas Doherty presented concerns to federal government

Most Read