Pubdate: Fri, 17 Jan 2003
Source: Lindsay This Week (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003 Lindsay This Week


Despite its rural charms, the City of Kawartha Lakes has problems more 
often associated with big-city life.

Such as intravenous drug use.

It came as quite a surprise to This Week to learn that a needle exchange 
operating in Lindsay swaps about 5,300 new needles for old ones yearly, 
servicing about 150 intravenous drug users in our community.

The Lindsay site is one of 10 in our part of the province operated by a 
group of agencies that includes the Peterborough AIDS Research Network 
(PARN), and Fourcast Addiction Services.

The program, which runs on less than $10,000 per year, is intended to 
combat the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C which can occur 
when intravenous drug users share needles.

The exchange also helps keeps discarded needles from being picked up by 
children in our community.

The local health unit is being asked to contribute about $800 to the 
program, money we think would be well spent.

We know how easy it is to be critical about the lifestyle choices of those 
who use the needle exchange.

Intravenous drug use is devastating at the individual level and creates 
social costs as well, in added health-care needs required by users, the 
potential spread of disease, and the potential for criminal activities 
required to pay for drugs.

We also have to point out that, in many cases, the drugs used intravenously 
are themselves illegal narcotics.

But we acknowledge that, in their own way, the users who swap needles at 
the exchange are trying to take some responsibility for their actions and 
their consequences.

And any act of responsibility, even when it's associated with activities 
the rest of us may frown on, should be encouraged particularly in light of 
the potential healthcare savings down the road.

The more disturbing reality is that there are probably intravenous drug 
users in our community who don't use the needle exchange.

They're the ones we hope read this editorial, and the story in today's 
paper, and perhaps get the message that they too should become a little 
more responsible for their lives.

Intravenous drug usage isn't a pleasant subject but it, too, is a fact in 
our communities, no matter how isolated we may think we are here in 
small-town Ontario.
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