Contact Us

  • Phone: 250-828-8222
  • Email:
  • Mailing Address: 454 Columbia Street, Kamloops, BC V2C 2T5



The Observer

The Drug Overdose Crises

Posted by Joshua Claycamp on

The following is a rushed transcript, and as such it may contain discrepancies or errors.

It's Wednesday, March 30 2022. I'm Joshua Claycamp. And this is the observer and Kamloops Christians reflection upon the news from a biblical perspective in order to understand how Christians need to think and feel about current events, an issue that has plagued British Columbia for a long time is the overdose crisis, first declared a major crisis in 2016.

This issue was recently brought to our attention by the recent release of the coroner's report for Kelly McParland, a well known Kamloops advocate for youth homelessness. Today, we're going to be talking about whether or not removing the stigmatization associated with drug addiction is helpful. And last, as Christians, we need to wrestle with the question of the real root of this issue. Why is drug addiction a problem in the first place? But we begin first of all with Kelly McParland. The CBC released an article earlier in this week entitled BC youth homelessness advocate died of accidental drug overdose The article begins a youth homelessness advocate in Kamloops BC, who advise provincial and federal governments on the issue died of illicit drug toxicity. coroner's have confirmed Catherine Macfarlanes accidental death at her home in Kamloops on December 5 20, was the result of the mixed toxicity of fentanyl and at Teads olam according to a BC coroner Service report which was released earlier this week. The combination of the two drugs can cause serious suppression and failure of the respiratory system according to the report, which was signed by coroner Kristin event ski on September the 22nd. The report says that McParland was found lying on her back on the floor with paraphernalia of illicit drug use beside her and no signs of traumatic injury or foul play.

The article goes on to detail the achievements which Kelly McParland accomplished in her lifetime as well as some of the challenges that she faced, as most listeners of the observer will be aware. McParland was the founder and executive director of a way home Kamloops, which is a well known local nonprofit organization that has worked for a number of years to bring about the end of youth homelessness. McParland also served on BC housings board and was a co chair of the BC coalition to end youth homelessness, not to mention the fact that she was also a member of the federal government's Advisory Committee on homelessness. McParland died just a week before the annual campout to end youth homelessness which is an event hosted by her organization every December in Kamloops in order to raise public awareness of the issue. Now as we step back and we reflect on McParland, we have to remind ourselves that she is an individual she's a person, she's not just a number, and we have to consider her story as we begin to wrestle with the question of why it was that she struggled with drug drug use and drug addiction.

As a child McParland went through 28 different foster homes before she aged out of foster care system at 19. She was homeless after that for a long while. But eventually she went on to earn a master's degree here at Thompson Rivers University in Social Work leadership. At the time of her death, her friend said that she was struggling with mental health. All of this brings us to the question before us. What are we to make of this numerous editorials were released subsequent to the coroner's report that went on to detail Kelly Macfarlanes struggle with addiction, the fact that she was sober for a number of years and then in recent weeks leading up to her death, obviously back slid, had a bout of mental health struggles. And as a result of that succumbed once again, to utilizing drugs. The drugs which she utilized, were laced with fentanyl, rather toxic substitute for cocaine, or heroin. And of course, this brings us to the question today, how are we to help address these issues? This is not an isolated incident. This is not just one well known local community advocate, an advocate for youth homelessness that we're talking about. This is an issue which is plaguing all of British Columbia.

This issue was first identified in April of 2016. The overdose crisis and BC was officially recognized for what is a public health emergency. In that year of 2016. There were a whopping 993 People in the province who died as a result of drug overdose. But the declaration of it being a public health emergency did not stop the crisis from happening. escalating nearly six years later, things have only gotten worse. In 2021, a suspected 2224 People have died as a result of drug overdose more than double the number of people who died in 2016. We've seen over a 100% increase across Canada overdoses have killed almost 27,000 People from the start of 2016 through to the end of the summer of 2021. And in January of this year of 2022, in the first month of 2022, there were 207 deaths related to drug overdoses and illicit toxic drugs here in British Columbia. This is hitting very close to home for all of us, especially those of us who live here in Kamloops. This last weekend, we saw in Kamloops. A story emerge regarding an incident that took place at the Kamloops McDonald's downtown. Meeting the Kamloops McDonald's that operated at the Kelson place building at the corner of Third Avenue and Victoria had been there for more than a decade. But in an announcement released yesterday the restaurant is no longer in the business after the owner and operator cited safety concerns for her employees.

Merit resident brandy goes to shikon said quote, all of the social disturbances we've been facing have just been too much. And our decision to close the restaurant was sped up. As things got worse in the downtown core. We just didn't want to be a part of it anymore. And quote goes to Chicago who grew up working at the restaurant acknowledges that street related issues have led to the closure and that these street street related issues are not isolated merely to McDonald's. It is a city wide concern, however, goes to Chicago and says that she's saddened by what is happening in Kamloops quote. Kamloops is an amazing city to live in. I've grown up here and things are happening that shouldn't be happening. We need to come together as business owners as community leaders as a community just to make things better, and quote, the locations closure prompted a response from the mayor's office on Monday, citing the safety concerns at the McDonald's are related to the larger mental health issues that are plaguing the province. The Mayor's office was also careful to point out that these should not be considered criminal issues.

Indeed, Mayor Ken Christian released a statement on Monday March the 28th, in which he wrote quote, this past weekend highlighted many social issues in our community that I want to address and discuss. Over the weekend, the downtown McDonald's announced its closure for many reasons, including open drug use and safety concerns. There was an overdose in the public washroom of a popular department store and there were likely many other instances throughout our community that were not as public while this has happened here in Kamloops and our home. Unfortunately, Mayor Christian goes on to say these things are occurring throughout the province and across the country. The drug supply in British Columbia is toxic Mayor Christian says and Kamloops is no exception. Sadly, persons addicted to drugs are dying at an alarming rate. And last month, Kamloops had the third highest number in the province. So the question is, how do we solve this problem? What is the correct response? What is the approach that we should be taking? Mayor Ken Christian in his letter released on Monday detailed a number of issues that he is working to achieve. In this letter which he released he lists among other things supporting additional car 40 units. Residents of Kamloops will be familiar that the car 40 unit is an RCMP officer paired with a social worker or a mental health professional who respond specifically to calls that are involving mental health concerns or drug addicts. Additionally, to this mayor Christian calls for a sobering center in Kamloops. He goes on to say that he is constantly lobbying for more detox and recovery beds for youth and adults. He goes on to suggest as well, that he is working extensively with the Royal Canadian prosecutors office in order to change the charge assessment standards. He doesn't say in the bullet points that he lays out for the media exactly what type of change she has been lobbying for. However, in the conclusion, he writes, quote, I support both the decriminalization of personal possession of drugs and the provision of a safe supply of drugs and I am working weekly with the BC See urban mayor's caucus, yet sadly, these conditions continue to deteriorate. So American Christian is saying that what needs to happen is that personal possession of otherwise illicit drugs needs to be decriminalized. So drugs including things such as cocaine or heroin, these types of drugs if they are held by an individual in a quantity that is to be understood to be for personal consumption and not for sale or distribution. This needs to be decriminalized the Globe and Mail. writing an article released today agrees. The editor the editorial team of the globe, mail writes, quote, what we don't need are more reports. What we don't need are more experts studying the issue. What we need is action. But in the face of political inaction, it is important to focus on what works among wide ranging experts there is a striking unanimity we know what to do.

The editorial team of The Globe and Mail says quote, in early March in British Columbia, where the epidemic of deaths is the worst in Canada, a panel convened by the BC coroner service called for the province to ensure a safe drug supply to those at risk of dying from the toxic illicit supply. This means a more widely available flow of regulated drugs and quote, so there you have it, the recommendations for reducing this issue, amount to number one, decriminalizing the possession of drugs, if they are understood to be in an amount that is for personal consumption. And in addition to this, providing for a safer supply of drugs, so decriminalizing drugs, and ensuring that there are no longer toxic substitutes, such as fentanyl that is making its way into the drug supply. So as we consider all of these issues, we have to step back and say, what is it that we're not talking about so far? At this point, we've touched on the need for decriminalization, we've touched on the need for providing for a safer drug supply. But what is the other issue that is often advocated, and that issue is stigma, we need to remove the stigma around being a drug addict. The idea behind this suggestion is that if we can remove the stigma, individuals will feel more comfortable in discussing the fact that they are addicted to drugs, and they will perhaps feel more comfortable in searching out additional resources and help for their drug addiction problem. Now, as I'm sitting here, looking at all of this, I'm not entirely sure how decriminalizing drugs and providing a safe supply of drugs would directly correlate towards helping individuals I can understand how trying to lower some of the stigma around this issue might help individuals come out of the dark come out of the shadows, as it is commonly suggested, in order to find the help that they need. But I'm not entirely sure how decriminalizing it would be helpful or beneficial. And I'm also not sure that providing for a safer supply of drugs is going to help the issue and the reason for all of this is because it is a fundamental violation of the teaching of God's Word with regards to why we have bodies in the first place.

The apostle Paul writing in First Corinthians chapter six, makes a profound statement. He says in verse 13, food is meant for the stomach and the stomach is meant for food. He makes this statement as a general principle to indicate that our bodies were created for a reason, and that the various components of our bodies, the individual organs and tissues with which our bodies have been created, were designed in such a way as to serve the purpose of the body which is to serve the purpose of the Creator. The apostle Paul goes on to say, the body is not meant for sexual immorality, but the body is meant for the Lord and the Lord is meant for the body. Now this is a profound theological concept. But in effect, what the Apostle Paul is saying is that we are meant to know the Lord through a physical interaction. Of course, we can't meet Christ face to face now, but Paul hints at the fact that the reason we have a body is that God from eternity past was always intending to step into a physical body to have a relationship with his creatures with human beings created in His image that was to be mediated through a physical interaction. To put it in layman's terms. The Lord of the universe always wanted to be able to give a physical hug to his children. He wanted to always be able to throw his arms his literal foot Blood arms around his people. This is the nature of love. This is what God is desiring to do. This is why God has created human beings in His image with physical bodies, that he also might take a form as one of us taking on flesh and blood, and walking with us in face to face interactions. This is what Paul is saying, we have a body, we've been given a body, this is God's purpose. This was his intention. This was his design, then he raises an interesting concept. What then are we to do with our bodies? And he poses a rhetorical question, shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never. He says, Do you not know that he has joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her, for as it is written, the two shall become one flesh. And then in verse 17, he says, he who is joined to the Lord is to become one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality, every other sin a person commits, is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

The point that the apostle Paul is making here is that we are not to engage in behaviors that are sinful in God's eyes. When we think of the issue of sexual immorality, we understand that the reason why individuals are drawn to having indiscriminate sex is because of the pleasure that it provides. And yet the Apostle Paul is saying that pleasure is not to be our highest motivation, the physical gratification that might come from sexual intercourse is not to be what guides or directs people, rather, it is to be a desire for closer relationship, closer intimacy with God. And as random sexual intercourse outside of the bond of marriage is something which God explicitly prohibits, as sinful in his eyes, we are not to take our bodies and to do that, which is to say that the driving motivation for why we might want to do something like that, namely, the pleasure and the gratification that comes from sexual intercourse, that pleasure is not to supersede the pleasure which we are to derive from being close and walking in an intimate relationship with Christ. The apostle Paul says, quote, every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. The point that the apostle Paul is making, then is that when we engage with our bodies, and certain behaviors that directly affect our body, we are sinning against our body, if we engage in behavior that dishonors the Lord with our body, this applies obviously, not only to sexual intercourse, which is Paul's major focus in First Corinthians six, but it would also apply to anything we would put into our bodies, which would include illicit drugs, illegal drugs, the apostle Paul goes on to say, Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you whom you have from God, you are not your own, you are bought with a price. So glorify God with your body. This is the deeper issue involved here. The reason why there is a stigma, the reason why individuals understand that there is something dark and pernicious about drug addiction, is that we understand intuitively, that we were created by God in His image with a purpose of having a relationship with God, as the Apostle Paul makes clear in Romans chapter one, everyone knows this, there is no person on the face of the earth, who has not grasped this concept. And so when we engage in activities with our body that are self destructive, for the purposes of pleasure, when we inject drugs for the high that we will receive, knowing full well the physical harm that results, we sin against the body, and we ultimately abuse the body, using it in a way in which it is not intended to be used. This is the textbook definition of abuse. And so individuals who engage in the abuse of their body naturally feel shame, it is the outworking of the soul. And as a result, we cannot de stigmatize we can never move, the shame or the guilt that attaches to this behavior into the light in such a way that we will no longer feel shame or guilt for abusing our bodies in this way.

Again, I'm not entirely sure that removing the stigma around these issues will indeed motivate individuals who otherwise wouldn't to come and receive the help that they need. I don't believe that it will as a result of the deeper issue that is going on within a person's heart. As we step back, and we look at this issue more broadly, we're asking the question, why is there a drug addiction problem in the first place? Why is it that we have this desire to do this with our bodies? The apostle Paul touches on this issue, as well. As we think about this issue, the root issue of what's going on. We should not imagine that recreational drugs are a modern invention, something that was only dreamed up and cooked up in the last 200 years or so. several passages in Scripture actually mentioned the use of illicit drugs. The Scripture uses this word of sorcery, among lists of sins against God. And the practice of sorcery in the ancient world, often included the use of mind altering drugs. We read in Revelation 921, that individuals who remained adamant in the rebellion against God, quote, did not repent of their murderers or their sorceries. And again, we read in Revelation 18 and 22. As for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, or sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. In both of those passages. sorcerers and sorceries are mentioned. In both of these passages. This is obviously referring to an activity that is considered morally evil.

Therefore, these passages are using these terms in a negative sense, but the actual Greek word that is being used there is pharma con, and pharma con means a drug that is used as a controlling medium, a magic potion, or a charm of some kind, which would certainly include drugs taken for hallucinogenic purposes and probably also strong stimulants and depressants. Now, the occult practices which are prohibited in these passages which translate the word as sorceries, or sorcery, would have included both the use of drugs as magical potions and other practices, such as attempting to cast magic spells upon people. Another Greek English lexicon says that Pharmacopoeia and pharma con refer to the use of magic often involving drugs and the casting of spells upon people. As we are looking at the scriptures and asking the question, how is it that we are to think about the use of illicit drugs? And is it right to provide drugs to individuals that are safer and by safer we mean, less toxic? The conclusion is, all these terms are not limited to the use of drugs, only four mind altering purposes. Their meaning the the meaning of these words, certainly includes such practices, and these practices are condemned. Perhaps the most specific passage that deals with this issue comes from Galatians chapter five, the apostle Paul writing into the church of Galatians says, I say walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh, for the desires of the flesh are against the spirit. And the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh for these are opposed to each other to keep you from doing the things that you want to do. He goes on to say the works of the flesh are evident. They're obvious they involve sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, and there it is listed as the fifth item in his list sorcery. The works of the flesh are evident sorcery. What in the world does this mean? Well, again, as we've looked at the meaning of the word behind it, as we have considered the practices that would have taken place in the first century world in which the scriptures were written, this would have meant the use of hallucinogenic drugs. And the Apostle Paul says that the use of hallucinogenic drugs this use of sorcery or charms is to be understood as a work of the flesh. Now, the real reason, the real reason why we have a drug issue is not as a result of a lack of education. It's not the result of stigma attached to it. And the real reason we have this drug overdose issue, although it is complicated and compounded by the introduction of fentanyl into the drug supply, the real reason we have an issue with drugs in our province, is because human beings are sinful. And it's because we do not desire to honor or glorify God with our bodies. It is because we do not desire to find the joy which our Creator seeks to give us in this life. In this reality, we seek to escape it, we seek to experience it in other ways by abusing our body. And that is to say using our body for purposes which the Creator did not intend it to be used using it for purposes which are contrary to His purposes.

And as a result of all of this, we understand as Christians, this is not a Matter of education, it is not a matter of reduction of harm, it is not a matter of providing safe needles or safe drugs. Ultimately, this is a matter of the heart is a moral matter and therefore, we cannot understand it as being simply a question of safe supply. It is not a matter of mere mental health concerns, and it will not be solved through so called harm reduction efforts.

As Christians, then how are we to feel? How are we to think about these things? I believe that the best passage for us again comes from the letter to Titus, the apostle Paul writes, For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, I'll stop right there and just reiterate that for emphasis, we have all Paul says, at one point in time or another, we have all been slaves, which is another way of saying addicted to various passions and pleasures, we are therefore no better morally, or in terms of righteousness, we are no better than those individuals who are slaves to drugs, we ourselves at one point in time were a slave to some kind of pleasure, or some kind of a passion. This indeed is how we remove stigma, not by diminishing the problem of addiction, but by proclaiming the gospel by proclaiming the truth. And the truth is this we are all sinners, all of us. The issue of addiction is no different and no worse than any other sin. The way that we remove the stigma of addiction is not by minimizing the problem not by suggesting that it is somehow okay to be addicted. But by proclaiming the greatness of God, the apostle Paul says, we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days and malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and the loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us and righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. All the therapy in the world will not solve this issue. The only one that can do that is Jesus Christ.

Thanks for listening to the observer. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com forward slash Joshua Claycamp. For information on First Baptist Church of Kamloops just go to first Baptist Kamloops dot o RG or for more information on first Baptist class the academy just go to first Baptist gospel dot o RG I'll see you again tomorrow more of the word and observer

Tags: body, people, drugs, drug addiction, bc, sorcery, coroner, overdose, kamloops, stigma, drug overdose crises, illicit drugs