Pubdate: Tue, 08 Jan 2008
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Province
Author: Dr. Perry Kendall


I'd like to put the issue of safer crack kits for crack cocaine 
smokers into a broader context

The most recent (2002) estimate of the social costs of tobacco, 
alcohol and illicit drugs for B.C. are: tobacco, $2.33 billion; 
alcohol, $2.22 billion; and illicit drugs, $1.5 billion.

In 2005, there were 27,212 tobacco-related, 25,194 alcohol-related 
and 4,817 illicit-drug-related hospital discharges across B.C. 
Clearly, we have problems with substance use and fixing them is 
neither simple nor easy.

A combination of well-funded prevention programs, treatment 
opportunities, strategic law-enforcement initiatives and efforts to 
reduce the ill effects of ongoing use (harm reduction) appear from 
the evidence to be the most promising approaches.

All could use higher levels of investment.

Addiction to drugs, legal or illegal, is recognized as a chronic 
relapsing health condition. Many addicts remain under-treated or are 
simply not ready to engage in treatment.

The most sensible way to do business seems to mean offering ways to 
prevent costly health problems that arise from unsafe use of drugs, 
while increasing investment in treatment and research into more 
effective treatment.

Safer crack kits offer one small and inexpensive opportunity to 
prevent some potentially very damaging and costly illnesses.

The bill for British Columbians with hepatitis C falls between $71 
million and $143 million each year. By contrast, each disposable 
piece of tubing costs pennies.

Addiction may be a temporary state, but hepatitis C and HIV 
infections, alas, are not.

Dr. Perry Kendall,

Provincial Health Officer
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom