Pubdate: Wed, 13 Mar 2013
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jon Ferry


The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs is meeting in Vienna this week to 
recommend measures to combat the world drug problem.

But in Vancouver, the war against illegal drugs appears to have been 
won already by those who favour "harm reduction," with its publicly 
funded crackpipe kits, safe-injection rooms and "free" heroin and 
methadone fixes.

This does little more than apply a Band-Aid - as opposed to 
abstinence-based treatment, which actually gets people off drugs but 
is frowned upon by the politically correct powers-that-be.

No, the current mantra among grant-hungry activists, medical 
researchers and politicians is to feed the need, not starve it - 
which is why as many addicts as ever roam Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

However, I think abstinence may well be making a comeback. And I'm 
heartened to see two celebs, one local and one international, giving 
it a new cachet.

British comedian Russell Brand, songstress Katy Perry's ex, said in 
Britain's Spectator magazine that he believes in abstinence-based 
programs in helping addicts/alcoholics stay clean and sober. He also 
wrote eloquently of his addict friend, singer Amy Winehouse.

"What was so painful about Amy Winehouse's death is that I know that 
there is something I could have done. I could have passed on to her 
the solution that was freely given to me. Don't pick up a drink or 
drug, one day at a time," he said. "It sounds so simple, it actually 
is simple, but it isn't easy - it requires incredible support and 
fastidious structuring."

Brand says that, without a structured recovery program, he'd still be 
taking drugs. "Because even now the condition persists," he noted. 
"Drugs and alcohol are not my problem - reality is my problem. Drugs 
and alcohol are my solution."

The local celebrity is David Berner, former actor, former Province 
columnist and current public-affairs host on Shaw community TV.

Berner has just published All the Way Home, a must-read book about 
how in 1967 he started Canada's first residential treatment centre 
for drug addicts and alcoholics in Vancouver - and how, based in 
Winnipeg, it continues to turn out sober/clean citizens to this day.

Berner is a natural storyteller. And it's the ex-cons and other 
colourful characters he describes that make the book a page-turner.

But he also disses harm reduction and says he doesn't believe 
addiction should be treated as a disease requiring ongoing treatment 
by high-priced doctors and nurses.

What's really needed, he says, are recovery centres run by 
ex-addicts, social workers and psychologists at a fifth of the 
taxpayer cost ($50,000 as opposed to $250,000 a year).

"Addictions, properly understood, are an emotional, psychological, 
social, behavioural and spiritual problem," he noted.

Berner and Brand are both witty, accomplished guys with a wealth of 
addiction experience. Governments in B.C. should listen to them.

The success rates for abstinence programs may not be high (never much 
more than 50 per cent), but they do help scores of addicts become 
drug-free. Keeping them on drugs, as the harm-reduction theorists 
advocate, simply keeps them enslaved.
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