Pubdate: Fri, 25 Apr 2008
Source: Chronicle Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2008 The Halifax Herald Limited


OTTAWA - Distributing crack pipes to addicts in Canadian cities
to halt the spread of disease is actually doing more harm than good by
tacitly encouraging substance abuse, says a senior RCMP officer
fighting the illicit drug trade.

"I just don't think it's helping," said Chief Supt. Derek Ogden,
director general for drugs and organized crime with the Mounties.

"If you're just experimenting with cocaine and people are handing out
crack pipes at will, really I think it sends the wrong message, and
could actually encourage the rate of crack cocaine use in the
community," he said in an interview.

Ogden's comments add fresh fuel to the raging debate over the best
means of controlling the hard drug problem plaguing downtown streets.

Cities across the country are grappling with the safety and health
issues associated with strung-out junkies, dirty pipes and needles,
and the spread of hepatitis C and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Advocates say distributing clean glass pipes, tiny screens and
mouthpieces helps halt the transmission of disease.

"The reality is, people are injecting drugs whether you, I or the next
guy like it or not," said Jack McCarthy, director of the Somerset West
Community Health Centre in Ottawa.

McCarthy stresses a four-pillared approach to tackling illicit drug
use: enforcement, harm reduction, treatment and prevention.

Without sanitary paraphernalia, he said, addicts use more dangerous
implements such as needles to inject the drugs or pieces of metal pop
cans to heat up crack and inhale it, then pass on pathogens through
sharing the makeshift pipes.
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MAP posted-by: Derek