Illusions May Appease Our Conscience – They Don’t Save Lives

Or should that be the Illusions of Self-delusion?

I found myself thinking about how pervasive seeing what we want to see, rather than what is, has become when I came across a Request for Proposal issued by the Fraser Health Authority to implement Health Contact Services for people who use illicit drugs.

The reason the Request for Proposal brought the human behaviour/ability to see and believe what they want to be the facts or reality was the request stating that between January and November 30th 2020 there were1,548 deaths from overdose compared to 441 deaths from COVID [to November 29] and notes that the number of drug overdose deaths have increased dramatically since March 2020.

I am not sure if it would be more disturbing if the lack of comprehension reflected in the Request for Proposal is a result of a lack of ability to comprehend [to see other than what they want to see] or if the non-comprehension is wilful. Either way, the failure to understand the reality the facts define ensures that drug overdose deaths will continue into the future undiminished.

To know that the number of overdose deaths would increase in March 2020 required no genius, it only required an acquaintance with basic mathematics and problem solving – or the application of basic quality control principles.

Either basic quality control or a basic understanding of mathematics banish any delusion that government actions and the use of Naloxone are reducing drug overdose deaths.

there are three kinds of falsehoods, lies, damned lies and statistics

Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour,

A basic understanding of statistics [How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff] applied to the data on drug overdose deaths shows that the decrease in the number of overdose deaths that resulted from the use of Naloxone did not represent the saving of any lives.

The decrease in the number of overdose deaths per month using Naloxone is the result of postponing the deaths until a future point in time The deaths do not occur in that specific month, but are pushed to a future point in time. Naloxone does not change the total number of deaths that occur, it redistributes the deaths over a longer period of time.

To illustrate: you have 120 deaths in a six month period – 20 deaths per month. Spreading the 120 deaths over twelve months reduces the monthly death total from 20 to 10. The reduction from 20 to 10 deaths per month does not reflect a saving of lives because, either way, the final death toll is 120 people.

March 2020 saw the BC government act in response to COVID to ensure social distancing and isolation.

These actions resulted in the closing of venues [ie Salvation Army] and led to increased drug use without others present to administer Naloxone or call for medical help. With fewer deaths pushed into the future by Naloxone the number of deaths per month rose.

The increase in the number of drug overdose deaths per month resulting from social distancing and isolation evidences the use of Naloxone does not save lives but redistributes the same total number of deaths over a longer period of time.

I am not saying that the use of Naloxone is a bad choice.

I am saying the failure to understand that a reduction in the monthly death totals from the use of Naloxone does not represent lives being save but is a result of the deaths being postponed to a future time, thereby spreading the deaths over a longer period of time facilitates the illusion that lives are being saved and allows us to avoid making tough choices and taking the actions necessary to effectively address overdose deaths and the reality of addiction and recovery.

The failure to act effectively on overdose deaths, addiction and recovery allows overdoses deaths to continue relentlessly into the future.

Deaths that are unnecessary should we have the will.

People judge illicit drug use to be bad or wrong or immoral or evidence of a lack of character. Judgments that are irrelevant when weighed against lives being lost.

People are dying, we have the ability to change that and we choose not to stop the dying – a choice that defines and damns us.

That we cling to a delusion, created by mathematical sleight-of-hand, in order to permit wilful denial of the darkness our choice embraces not only defines and damns us – it is pathetic.

P.S. Postmedia; B.C. experienced deadliest February of opioid crisis

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