Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Vice Renewals Rediscovered

"These are preventable deaths ... what ends up being more than a death a day following each cheque issue. It would be warranted to look at methods ... to try to reduce this avoidable mortality."
"You see this cheque-week after cheque-week, month after month, year after year. The pattern is so consistent."
Michael Otterstatter, B.C. Centre for Disease Control epidemiologist

"You've been in a state of stress and survival and hunger and cold for the whole month and  you get this [welfare payment]."
"I think anyone's reaction would be to spend a little on what gives you enjoyment."
Trish Garner, B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition
Rob Kruyt / Postmedia
Rob Kruyt / Postmedia   “You’ve been in a state of stress and survival and hunger and cold for the whole month and you get this (welfare payment),” says Trish Garner of the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition. That impulse to indulge after a month of austerity. can be fatal.
"Most Canadians would argue that their investment in social assistance programs should be for the assistance of that individual's well being, rather than harming them."
"And alcohol ... and illicit drugs harm people."
Dr. Joel Ray, internal-medicine specialist, St.Michael's Hospital, Toronto
Study to evaluate effect of welfare cheque distribution on drug use
People line up in Vancouver to pick up their welfare checks on a Welfare Wednesday.

A new study by British Columbia researchers published in the International Journal of Drug Policy that looked at illicit drug use and the connection between a sudden resurgence of drug overdoses and the regular receipt of welfare payments coinciding, has led to the conclusion that one triggers the other. At the very least, one enables the other. The regular monthly welfare payments meant to be used for the necessities of life are being used for what down-and-out drug addicts consider the necessities of their lives.

Their survival in addiction-mode is linked to where their next fix will come from, when it arrives, and what they can afford. Suddenly, with a cheque in their hands cashed and ready to go, they are able to acquire their fix and there are no immediate restrictions in what they can afford. This is being called the "cheque effect", the kind of flirting with dangerous outcomes that drug abusers expose themselves to when bingeing.

Why a research project had to be undertaken to understand that this is happening is strange, since it has long been known that this is what happens to alcoholics when they receive their monthly stipend through welfare, enabling them to march right over to acquire the brand of alcohol that most suits their purpose of becoming thoroughly alcohol-sodden, and the consequent risk to life. Perhaps not as immediately as with drug overdoses, but perfectly effective given enough time.

Links are also being theorized with respect to the issue of cheque-and-acquisition exacerbating the epidemic of Fentanyl abuse and death. Toronto scientists embarked on their own similar study earlier in the year and they concluded that the phenomenon induces people receiving monthly payment to binge on alcohol. It is as though we cannot get it through our heads as a society that human nature cants us toward instant gratification, where we grasp at what appears to be opportunity while not pausing to think rationally.

This is why people who win a lottery so often lose all their winnings in short order as a result of splurging on costly possessions and flinging their winnings about with reckless abandon on what they think they want and what will comfort them, until they discover there is nothing left to be careless with and they're back where they began, in too-short order, hardly chastened, but regretful nonetheless. It's something called human nature.

But the studies have provided for some stimulative thought on the part of provincial ministry officials who may now study the results of the research perhaps to make the determination that one monthly cheque might be divided into smaller cheques available more frequently throughout the space of a month. And if they think it through to its conclusion they might realize that if there were three cheques instead of one, then there might result three splurges instead of one.

In fact, researchers in Canada and the United States and elsewhere in the world have understood that evidence is ample of the cheque phenomenon, the results of which also include beyond overdoses and mortality, more numerous hospital emergency visits. The B.C. study went through data provided by coroners' reports and statistical analysis demonstrated a trend over the period studied.

Twice as many fatal overdoses occurred on the Thursday and Friday after the issuance of regular Wednesday cheque days. An average of 15 deaths a year in British Columbia were linked to cheque timing. In contrast, the Ontario study examined ambulance calls related to licensed establishments in the Toronto area over a nine-year period. Four times as many drunk-related calls to bars and three times as many assaults occurred on cheque day or the day following.

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