OPINION: Confidential sources provide insights on overcoming drug addiction

By on April 10, 2018

Richard McGuire

The story about plans to open a supportive recovery facility in an east-side residential neighbourhood has been especially challenging to cover.

That’s because a number of the people I interview only agree to speak to me if their comments are off the record. This information is useful in providing leads, but unless it can be verified with multiple sources, it can’t be used.

Neighbours have been willing to talk to me both on and off the record, but many readers simply dismiss what they have to say as NIMBY – not in my back yard.

The town has been very cautious, realizing this is a contentious issue, and has insisted on two key points:

• The town has only received general inquiries and no formal proposal;

• A current bylaw amendment process to define “supportive recovery” and set the criteria for establishing such facilities in residential neighbourhoods is not linked to any specific property.

The proponent of the facility has been evasive, hostile and untruthful. There’s more there than meets the eye.

When drugs are involved, many people have good reason to want their information kept in strictest confidence. I respect that, and will always protect confidential sources.

Nonetheless, confidential information must be treated very cautiously because sources may be mistaken, they may have biases and it’s possible they have an agenda that doesn’t involve telling the truth.

One contact I spoke with had some very interesting comments about recovery from drug addiction. In this case, she agreed to let me tell her story as long as I didn’t disclose her identity or any information that some might recognize.

I can’t independently verify what she said, but after a 25-minute interview, I believe her story.

All I’ll say about her is that she is a former Osoyoos resident who has worked in a health-related field. She’s middle aged.

A friend of hers was addicted to fentanyl, a highly addictive and often lethal opioid. He had been addicted for about a couple of years, but now he was determined to become drug free.

She looked into possible clinics where he could be treated and they settled on Abbotsford, deciding against several alternatives. This had the advantage that it got him away from his old surroundings.

“I personally think that if you are addicted to something like fentanyl, you need to leave the situation and go somewhere else,” she told me.

Unlike with a supportive recovery facility, they stayed at a motel near the clinic for a period of months.

Every day he went to the clinic, where he was given Suboxone, another opioid that is less addictive and also contains naloxone, a drug that reduces the narcotic effect and is used to prevent overdose.

At first, all her friend wanted to do was sit in front of the television, but after a while she insisted that he take daily walks to get his body back in shape.

“He went to the clinic and we walked every day, for two hours at least,” she told me.

At the same time, his dose of Suboxone was gradually reduced.

You may wonder about the commitment of my contact to put her own life on hold while she devoted this time to helping her friend.

“I loved this person,” she said. “He just sort of toughed it out because he had nowhere else to go and I was paying for everything.”

She told me she has never been on drugs herself.

The story has a happy ending. Her friend managed to become free of drugs and turned his life around “100 per cent,” she said.

Given that experience, I was interested to hear from her about the kind of setting she thought a recovering drug addict might need in this community.

“I think she should go farther out of town, where there is space,” she told me, referring to the location across from Goodman Park where a supportive recovery business run by Michelle Jansen wants to operate.

“I don’t think that house would be very good, surrounded by other houses,” she said.

She suggested an ideal location would be on the edge of town where clients could walk into town, but where they would have more privacy.

“I’m sure she could find somewhere else that doesn’t have as many neighbours,” she added.

One issue for clients is that they may wish for more privacy.

“They might not always be in the best of shape,” she said. “They might be really skinny and kind of groggy looking… I think she should find a place on the edge of town, not in town. Without neighbours.”

RICHARD McGUIRE

Osoyoos Times

If you have information about this or any other story that you would like to discuss confidentially, please call Editor Richard McGuire, 250-495-7225 or email editor@osoyoostimes.com.

 

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