We are extremely happy that Health Canada and the Minister of Health have reversed the ban on pharmaceutical-grade heroin. This is what we have been fighting years to achieve.
Each of us here today has struggled with addiction for most of our lives. We’ve tried many treatments. They never worked. We’d go on treatment and, inevitably, find ourselves back on the street looking to score again.
Heroin-assisted treatment worked when those other treatments failed. Through the NAOMI and SALOME trials, we have been able to access heroin-assisted treatment. This has made our addiction and, more importantly, our lives more manageable. We are better and healthier.
Prescription heroin does not get us high. What is does is eliminate our need for a drug that can otherwise only be found illegally on the street. It frees us. It frees us to find work and to get housing. It frees us from criminal activity, from getting robbed, getting beaten, or getting arrested.
And it frees us from wondering if our next high will be the one that kills us.
There is an overdose epidemic in this country that is destroying our community. Each one of us has lost someone close to us. These lives could have been saved, except that laws and policies have stood in the way. How many could still be alive? People have died and are dying, and for too long those who could make changes have either stood aside or stood in the way.
Today that changes. This decision will save lives. Not just the lives of those of us here today, but the lives of those who will come after us. Our motivation has been to make this treatment available to anyone who needs it. That is why we fought.
This is a victory for our community.