The last thing people caught up in the latest fentanyl drug crisis can afford to do is wait for help to get clean.
That’s because every overdose can lead to tragic circumstances as we’ve seen with the spike in mortality on Canada’s west coast.
There is no doubt it is a public health emergency, and people might find themselves in the same trouble in Waterloo Region as opioid addictions persist.
Those who treat addiction will tell you funding for treatment and support has been lacking for years.
In a series the Post did in 2015 on something as basic as supportive housing for those dealing with addictions, it can take 5,000 days, or more than 13 years, for people to find housing with built-in mental health and addictions support.
But how about people in crisis right now? What do you do with people with substance use issues that are out of hospital and stabilized?
Is there a better way than using the emergency room as a stop gap to getting them help with recovery?
According to Region of Waterloo Public Health, a rapid access clinic would be the right model, and already exists in other communities.
It would co-ordinate care between the emergency department, rapid access management clinic, withdrawal management services and primary care.
“We see the benefits of this, given there are many long wait lists in the community for treatment and rehabilitation,” said Lindsay Sprague, drug strategy co-ordinator for Public Health. The plan is in place. Now it needs commitment and funding from upper levels of government, as well as right here in the community.
Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic has taken a stab at addressing the issue, joining other big city mayors to find common solutions and common purposes. It will also ask upper levels of government to do better in data collection, as well as flowing through more funding for programs.
But it still requires local action and this rapid access clinic could help.
Holding us back seems to be some of the stigma of dealing with those who are drug-dependent. But death doesn’t judge, and the longer we wait, the more people will be claimed by this insidious drug.