At the Heart of the Growing Gun Crime Problem is the Addiction Problem

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Free of Addiction

Thunder Bay – OPINION – Thunder Bay has seen a growing number of gun seizures by police as a part of drug busts in recent months. While police reminisce that this used to be a knife town in what some are calling the good old days, increasingly as Southern Ontario drug dealers infiltrate our city, handguns are becoming all too common.

So too are home takeovers, especially in Thunder Bay Housing. This is actually nothing new, this kinds of takeover in social housing have been going on for years.

There was long discussion at Monday’s city council meeting on what measures could be put in place to evict tenants to reduce these home takeovers.

What seems missing from the dialogue is what is at the root cause of all these problems.

First it is the level of seemingly unstoppable addiction in our city. That has created the demand for illegal drugs that brought these southern gangsters into our region.

Experts talk about how addiction is a health issue not a crime issue. They are right. Addiction in our region has been a problem for a long time, a mostly ignored problem.

There are so few treatment spaced in addiction treatment centres in our city it is honestly ridiculous.

No one in life starts out wanting to be an addict. Talking to many of the least fortunate in our city, often the use of excessive drugs or alcohol is simply a way to numb the pain they feel. Pain from issues brought about by abuse, physical, sexual, or mental from Residential School, or from parents who didn’t really gain the experiences of how to raise their children – the Intergenerational Residential School era.

In many cases the opioid crisis started not on the streets but rather on the prescription pads of doctors who prescribed opioids like candy. We have evolved, or perhaps devolved to a society where taking drugs is in many cases increasingly all too common.

For Thunder Bay District Social Services, the Ontario Landlord Tenant Act offers all of the measures needed to evict a tenant for illegal activities.

The real issue however is that often it is the tenant, living in social housing who are actually the victims here. The drug gangs offer a path of least resistance, letting an addict run up a bill, and then simply under threat of violence moving into their home to do business.

Often sources tell NetNewsLedger these trap houses, or drug houses will move the drugs from one place to another through the week, this makes the job of police in getting a warrant for drug activity harder to get from a judge.

This past week, two of the drug busts made by police were a result of home invasions or break ins that brought police to the scene.

What increasingly is obvious is the number of charges against drug dealers that include breaching the conditions of an earlier release. Police go to all the work of catching the drug dealer, and the courts seemingly are in ‘catch and release’ mode.

The Thunder Bay District Jail has become overcrowded, and as a result very violent.

The solutions are not all that difficult.

  1. Thunder Bay needs a treatment centre large enough to help solve the addictions issue. Many addicts and alcoholics want to quit. However there simply isn’t space for detox and treatment.
  2. The courts need to stop the ‘Catch and Release’ cycle with drug dealers. At risk is public confidence and respect for our judges and legal system.
  3. There needs to be public education that drug and alcohol addiction is a health issue, and there needs to be more understanding and less public shaming of addicts. The concept that addicts somehow could be shamed, especially online into changing behaviour has never worked, and will never work.

Solving problems – big problems like addiction isn’t going to be easy. It is going to take a while to solve them.

Starting today is better than starting tomorrow.