Pubdate: Thu, 22 Sep 2016
Source: Cambridge Times (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Metroland
Author: Matthew M. Elrod


Re: Letter to the Editor titled "Illegal drug use simply isn't safe, 
stop it" published on Sept. 13.

The letter-writer suggested abstinence, adding, "The logic here, to
me, is so simple."

Alas, drug policy is not simple. We as a society can make drug use
more or less harmful to consumers and non-consumers alike.

For the last century or so, we have invested hundreds of millions of
dollars in attempting to make (some) drug use more harmful, under the
assumption that doing so discourages drug use and thereby causes a net
reduction in harm.

However, contrary to the letter-writer's assessment, problematic drug
use is usually not a choice.

Most chronic drug users are self-medicating emotional and psychological 
problems, typically stemming from childhood trauma, abuse, neglect and 

Many users are introduced to narcotics by their doctors.

It turns out that when consumers are unwilling or unable to just say
"no," reducing the harm they cause to themselves and others is less
expensive and socially destructive than neglect and marginalization.

In addition to preventing deaths and the spread of infectious diseases
within and beyond the drug using community, harm reduction services
shepherd drug users into detox and treatment, and save several tax
dollars for every dollar invested.

In other words, without harm reduction, we would have less resources
for treatment (or ineffectual drug law enforcement if you prefer), and
fewer drug users seeking it.

I for one would rather find one of my children alive at a supervised
injection site, chatting with a nurse, than dead in an alleyway.

Matthew M. Elrod

Victoria, B.C.
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MAP posted-by: Matt