Pubdate: Fri, 18 Feb 2005
Source: Kamloops This Week (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Kamloops This Week
Author: Dr. Jim Cullen



I am writing in response to the balanced and rational column written by your
managing editor Gord Kurenoff - Let's open ears, minds.

The column (Page 8, Wednesday edition of KTW) does an excellent job in
creating debate and dialogue concerning an important issue. It is a
statistical fact that almost everyone in our city has been touched by
addiction in some form or another.

For others, solutions such as needle exchanges, safe injection sites,
outreach, and harm reduction approaches to treatment are nebulous terms that
on the surface seem to perpetuate alcohol and drug use, not control it.

Many smaller and larger cities than Kamloops have adopted harm reduction
approaches to addiction problems - the results have been positive.

In Kamloops our own initiatives, such as needle exchanges, have reduced the
rates of HIV and hep C infections. There was a time, however, when needle
exchanges were vilified and communities fought against having these programs
established. We now realize that not to have needle exchanges would have
been a tragic mistake.

As the mayor has suggested, our community needs an open dialogue to begin
discussion and education around programs that may fit and benefit our city.

As chairman of the Let's Talk about Addictions Committee, I can guarantee
the citizens of Kamloops that we are in the process of developing a
community forum to educate those interested in harm reduction, safe
injection sites, needle exchanges, enforcement, prevention, education,
treatment and other options that our community can explore.

It takes the will of the people of this city, a will already evident through
the interest in our recent conference and the various responses reported in
the media.

It also takes the will of politicians (Mayor Mel Rothenburger was the only
politician who deemed this a "worthy enough" issue to attend the addictions
conference, a fact to consider in the next election).

Addiction is a health issue and a community issue. It's time our city moves
forward and begins to embrace this fact.

Dr. Jim Cullen, Chairman Let's Talk about Addictions Committee Kamloops
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