Pubdate: Tue, 17 Oct 2000
Source: Gloucester Daily Times (MA)
Copyright: 2000 Essex County Newspapers, Incorporated.
Author: Allan Erickson


The column by Gail Mountain, "Get Real About Drug Use," (Friday, Sept. 29), 
needs a response. She says: "There is no such things as the 'safe' use of 
heroin. Users always need more. It becomes unaffordable. They steal to get 
it. They end up in jail. They contract HIV. They overdose. They die. And 
they destroy entire families in the process."

While she is right about the devastating effects of heroin, she is wrong 
when she blames it on the drug. Prohibition is what drives addicts to 
burglary and theft. In many countries in Europe, they have embarked on a 
process known as heroin maintenance. A safe clinic is provided to the user 
where his/her health can be monitored and unadulterated heroin can be used 
at known dosages with clean needles. The process is proven to be effective 
in reducing the need for crime to pay for the drugs and effective in 
reducing contact diseases like HIV and hepatitis. Indeed many addicts work 
effectively, raise families and sit next to you at the movies.

Prohibition is the cause of misery on a monumental scale. I doubt the 
letter-to-the-editor writer she referred to, Jason Lalancette (Column 
Misstates Causes And Effects Of Drug Use, Thursday, Sept. 21), was 
advocating heroin use.

Education and the maturing process are the most effective tools in 
combating addiction. Drugs cannot be kept out of prisons, schools or 
society. The War on (some) Drugs is a massive failure that only serves to 
enrich the criminal cartels and the prohibitionists' bureaucracies. It is 
time for a different, more humane approach that makes drugs and addiction a 
medical and educational/spiritual matter.


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