There is a shortage of illegal drugs in the City of Steinbach. That is mostly a good thing, but not entirely.
Like toilet paper, lumber, and so many other products, RCMP Corporal Brian White says many illicit drugs have had their supply chains hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of drugs enter Canada through ports in BC and Toronto,” explains White, “so with COVID-19 putting holds on much trade and commerce, drugs is one of the affected industries.”
Tight borders, it seems, are not only slowing down Amazon orders, but they are also slowing down orders of methamphetamine, cocaine, and other narcotics typically sourced from outside the country. As a result, White says some drugs are up to ten times more expensive than usual. A hit that formerly cost $10 could now be as high as $100.
“So, if you’re an addict looking for an illegal substance to use but you can’t find it, maybe it’s a good time to seek out some treatment or ween yourself off of what you are addicted to,” he suggests.
In addition to providing an avenue for addicts to become clean, White says fewer available substances typically means less petty crime.
“Certainly I think there is an impact,” he remarks. “When there is less addiction, there is less desire to go after property and feed that addiction by [stealing].”
White is a member of the General Investigative Section, a branch of the Steinbach RCMP that has been cracking down on drug trafficking recently. Those efforts have further crushed Steinbach’s drug market. For that, Staff Sergeant Harold Laninga commends White and his team.
“As a detachment, we have been working very hard to hold the perpetrators of property crime responsible, and recently we’ve laid numerous charges against some of our most prolific offenders,” Laninga states. “The drug trade is being impacted and I think that’s a positive.”
Fewer harmful substances within easy reach… more traffickers getting charged… less petty crime… so what’s the downside? As White indicates, many addicts are shifting to different, stronger, or more deadly drugs to satisfy their cravings. For example, he says the misuse of prescription drugs and a mix of Fentanyl and Heroine known as “Purple Down” have both been gaining traction since the pandemic began.
In light of that, White urges users to take this time to sober up rather than turn to unfamiliar drugs with potentially unanticipated side-effects.
“Do yourself, your friends, and family a favor,” he says. “Take this time to seek out some treatment.”
It seems some people are genuinely heeding RCMP advice. Myra Gerbrandt of Steinbach Community Outreach works with individuals who struggle with addiction on a daily basis. She has seen first hand the benefits that this lack is having on her guests.
“I’ve talked to a couple of clients who have been addicted to meth in the past and they are actually grateful for the reprieve because this kind of forces them into a little bit of a detox.”
Gerbrandt says her primary fear is that the government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will help correct the imbalance between substance abusers and the prohibitive prices of their favorite drugs.
“There has been more money accessible to fuel some addiction issues so, in some sense, what we are afraid of is that addictions will be on the rise. Even though the product is less accessible there is more money available, through CERB, specifically.”
To avoid that pitfall, White encourages drug users to access any of Steinbach’s many resources like Steinbach Community Outreach, Adult and Teen Challenge, or Addictions Foundation Manitoba, before they find themselves in a new rut that is equally challenging to get out of.