Harm Minimalization debate



An Addict's View -

Well, Kel's message shows us that, even for people
who have been there, the
perceptions that we come out with can be very

I think that both Kel's and Shayne's message are
an indication of exactly
what goes wrong with the process of understanding
drug taking and dealing
with it - both of them think that their own ideas
should be applied to other
people.  The attitude of 'if someone says
different they are lying or wrong'
is one of the great tragedies of the human race
responsible for centuries of
political oppression.

Kel should look into some of the research.  Short
methadone programs do not
work.  When the patient stops taking methadone
after a short time they
relapse.  This research has been going on for
decades.  Methadone
maintenance is considered the gold standard
treatment for opiate addiction.
The patient stops taking methadone when they feel
ready and able to, in
consultation with their doctor, not when
politicians, the media or anyone
else thinks so.

Shayne, you say that you want to get a better
understanding of the
user/addict thing but you're not interested in the
personal side of
addiction, only the issues as they impact on
society.  But whatever
solutions you or researchers (though, who listens
to those?) or politicians
come up with, the impact will be on those
individuals.  The plain
unavoidable truth is that people take drugs and so
long as
a) people have less than an ideal existance and
b) big brother can't or won't commit the resources
to watch 6 billion people
worldwide every second of the day and night,
people will continue to take drugs.

Society can either

a) make things harder for them which results in
   1) a multibillion dollar world wide black
   2) overdose deaths
   3) disease
   4) crime
   5) a criminal underclass who have been made
that way for
       something they have done to their own body
   6) absolutely no impact on whether people
actually take it or not,
       at least the numbers of people taking drugs
is certainly not

b) make life more comfortable for them which
results in
   1) less crime
   2) less disease
   3) more addicts able to integrate into society
on their own terms
       (like it or not, this is what being in a
'free country' means)
   4) absolutely no impact on whether people
actually take it or not,
       at least, in countries with permissive drug
laws (Holland,
       there has been no increase in user numbers,
in fact the opposite.
   5) generally respecting the rights of others to
live how they want to

Going after the suppliers of the drug is the
biggest red herring in history.
As soon as you knock one out, the sheer size of
the profits ensure that
someone will take their place, devising ever more
ingenious ways of getting
it through and becoming ever more ruthless in
ensuring their profits. The
answer is the free market, and I hate saying that
because I'm a lefty,
undersell them.  Provide a better service at a
better price.  It won't stop
people from taking heroin but it will stop them
from dying and improve their
lives out of sight.

Setting up safe-injecting rooms, for whatever
reason, is a step in the right
direction, just as needle provision was, but in my
view doesn't go far
enough.  Why have a place where you can catch
people when they drop if you
can ensure, by providing them with safe, clean
drugs of a known strength,
that they won't drop in the first place?

Really Shayne, I find it so difficult to respond
to your letters because you
cram everything into one message.  Maybe I'll
tackle more later, or perhaps
you'd like to chat live - we're in the same time
zone, I'm usually online

Rose Whithers