A local support worker and advocate says the Parksville Qualicum Beach area lacks adequate support and treatment for people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. These concerns led Kelly Morris to organize an afternoon of sharing recovery stories to raise awareness about a public health crisis affecting the entire province.
“It’s been two years since I’ve been fighting the system for something to change. Addicts are dying. We have a poison drug supply here,” said Morris, adding people were waiting weeks to access a detox centre. “By then they’re either dead or they give up. There isn’t easy access to anything right now.”
She said the area needs more residential treatment for people suffering from addictions. According to Morris, she and a friend have been transporting people to the mainland because of the lack of treatment options on Vancouver Island.
“I’ve gotten 136 people in residential treatment already that are over at InnerVisions [Recovery Society],” said Morris, referring to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in Port Coquitlam.
The rally comes at a time when drug overdose deaths are increasing drastically in the province, including a record 170 in May, according to a report by the BC Coroners Service. Vancouver Island Health Authority accounted for 38 of those deaths, nearly double the 20 recorded in the previous month.
“A treatment centre would be one of the greatest things to do,” said Ed, who was one of the afternoon’s speakers and asked to go by his first name only. “Not only in Parksville, but in Nanaimo, Victoria — we need more funding for a treatment centre. We don’t need safe injection sites. We need places where they can go to get changed.”
Ed shared his story of recovery from alcohol abuse and finding a new life after several stints in federal and provincial prison. He said he was able to break out of his addiction on his own, but many people need help.
“They need that extra support. They need people who actually understand what’s going on. A lot of people don’t want to get involved because, well, somebody else will do it. No, we need people now. We need people to get in there and do it,” he said.
The rally went from noon to 6 p.m. at Parksville Community Park on Sunday.
Photo by Tyler Hay