Pubdate: Fri, 28 Sep 2012
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2012 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Donald MacPherson


Re: A 'Disease' Of Choice, Barbara Kay, Sept. 26.

In her column on addiction, Barbara Kay demonstrates a profound 
misunderstanding of harm reduction. She should spend a day at Insite, 
or at the very least further educate herself on what she's criticizing.

Harm reduction does not subscribe to the disease model or any other 
model of addiction. Put simply - the set of policies and programs 
that fall under the harm reduction model aim to reduce the negative 
health, social and economic consequence of drug use. One of these 
risks is the spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C; a very serious 
public health issue that Ms. Kay fails to mention.

It is true that people often mature out of addiction, but far from 
surrendering to addiction, harm reduction accomplishes just the 
opposite - it creates a supportive space for people to move past drug 
use when they are ready. And contrary to Ms. Kay's 
mischaracterization, harm reduction does not in any way conflict with 
rehabilitation. Insite, for instance, is connected to a detox centre, 
and use of its supervised injection facilities is often the first 
step towards recovery.

The issue of drug addiction is far too complicated for sweeping 
generalizations and easy answers - it calls for a variety of 
approaches, and harm reduction is central to helping those who use 
drugs and the public health at large.

Donald MacPherson,

executive director, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, Centre for 
Applied Research in Mental Health and Addictions, Simon Fraser 
University, Vancouver.
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