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B.C. struggling to find solution for mentally ill drug addicts

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British Columbia is estimating that there are around 130,000 people in the province who suffer from a severe addiction and/or mental health illness, The Canadian Press reported on Friday.

In addition, Vancouver's police and emergency workers are having trouble dealing with a small group of addicts who are committing violent acts of crime in the city. The report is saying that these individuals' brains are severely damaged by their chosen stimulant.

"What we have available isn't necessarily structured for this patient sub-type. It's either structured for addiction, or structured for mental health illness, but not necessarily the two together," Dr. Nader Sharifi, addiction medicine lead with the Fraser Health Authority, told the CP.

Sharifi added that "in chronic crystal meth users, somewhere between three to six per cent will have persistent psychosis that won't go away even after they stop using."

Earlier this year, CBC News reported that Vancouver's officials asked the B.C. government to help find solutions for the mental-health crisis.

According to a Statistics Canada report, in 2007 B.C. had a drug crime rate of 654 incidents per 100,000 population, which was more than double the second place province, Saskatchewan.

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