Who is primarily responsible for the mess we are in? It is a shared problem. People have to be responsible for their own behavior. Well there are a few exceptions which I will get to.
The biggest culprit is governments – federal and provincial. For starters, beyond lip service, the issue has as much priority as an oil slick on a glacier, it will wash away.
We are paying for past sins. Years ago the provincial governments of the day closed the mental health facilities to save money. Vulnerable people became the prey of drug dealers, pimps and god knows who else.
Governments approved and allowed opioid drugs to be prescribed like candy for pain. These drugs are worse with bigger consequences than illicit drugs. Even the war on illegal drugs has been part of the problem. Before you disagree give it a passing thought.
When something is illegal the problem is driven underground. Those addicted are afraid to come forward for help. They are at the mercy of drug dealers and a host of other who have no interest in the addicts well being.
To make matters worse there is no immediate help available for those wanting to return to the main fold of society. There is a waiting list that in some areas stretches out for a year or more. Many of those never get the help they need because they end up first homeless then dead.
It is not societies problem some will tell you. I know people that say they would not spend one dime on them. My reaction is to laugh. Why laugh? Because we together are already spending millions If not billions. Where you ask?
In hospitals, prisons, lost productivity, personal home insurance for break ins and vandalism. We are spending money providing housing in some cases even allowing addicts to live in the residence and do their illegal drugs.
The real people being shafted here are the working poor who are on the street. We provide them housing and force them to live amongst the addicted who have behavioral problems.
So what is the solution? Open the mental facilities and get the vulnerable into a safe environment. Provide the required drug treatment centers to assist those who need it. Crack down on those who prescribe addictive drugs on an ongoing basis.
If we do this instead of leaving it to the justice system alone we might have a chance of getting ahead of the curve. In the long run it will be cheaper as well.
My fear is getting people off the street into a one size fits all solution is the road to a new class of slum and doomed to failure.