COVID amplifies systemic violence: increasing and accelerating the impacts of already existing policy, policy trends, and practices. the consequences, intended or not, immediately impact people exposed to risk, because they haven’t made any policy choices, and can only react. and these consequences collide and combine in unexpected ways, depending on local context.
so drug users are dying in large and increasing numbers. almost all of us will die, from many things – all of them consequences of injustice.
for example, the guest ban in SROs and supportive housing has directly led to a lot of deaths in the neighbourhood which would otherwise been prevented – and in multiple ways. obviously yes, overdosing because using alone. also, where is the “guest” now? living rough on the street, then dead from a stabbing. the ban prevents a resident with mobility issues from visiting their friend across the street, who would have insisted that they go to the hospital, but that didn’t happen, so they’re dead. lots of that. my own building was decimated in may. ten percent of my neighbours died.
and the supply is toxic. its all over the place in terms of potency, composition, and internal consistency, as has been noted.
there are so many stupid terrible ways that poor people die. sometimes it’s one little thing that goes wrong, and then everything falls to pieces. those are consequences, and not causes.
as is poverty, and its cycle (in lockstep with the illicit supply), which is also a killer. we have to stop having cheque day. people must be empowered to design their own assistance schedule, in consultation with an advisor. the government must stop dumping all the legal money on poor people once a month. this needs to stop. it can. it’s a choice.
these are excess COVID deaths. COVID amplifies.
i also discovered that this is happening everywhere, at least in canada, and even more so this US, which makes sense in drug policy terms. 30% -> 50% – 90% mortality, March – April – May, quite consistently. Everywhere I could find overdose data. Because it’s a pandemic, which means everywhere.
“Between March 15 and April 25, British Columbia recorded 372 more deaths than in any of the previous five years for those same weeks — but just 99 of those were confirmed COVID-19 cases.”Excess deaths, june 19, cbc
so at this rate, by year’s end … well, my advice is to speak directly to users. for once. like we’re human. and say that at least 6000 drug users will almost definitely be dead by year’s end.
Overdoses – in this sense – are only the most dramatic in an overwhelming tide of death. and will continue to be for a little while. but they are not the cause of death. nor is COVID.
people say they hate drug use, and users, but that’s an excuse: that’s why the drug war is maintained- they need this reason to justify such hate. but as it turns out drug users are oppressed racialized minorities, Black and Indigenous people, people with disabilities, whether physical or mental or emotional, and queer and trans people, and other people denied or unable to access regulated medical care (undocumented migrants, injured contract workers, youth or teens fleeing abusive homes), and often a combination of these, and then add poverty. these are lived political contexts, these are lives lived in great pain, exposed to this system’s violence. and trapped in it. it looks like the people here. it hurts. a lot. drugs soothe that somewhat. for a time. it’s not the drugs, it’s drug policy.
that is why this is political and why it is about justice. because injustice is fatal.