Pubdate: Mon, 03 Oct 2016
Source: Vancouver 24hours (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Vancouver 24 hrs.
Author: Brent Stafford
Page: 6

Columnists Brent Stafford and Garth Mullins battle over the issues of
the day.

The Duel

This Week's Topic: Should prescription heroin be made available for 
addiction treatment in B.C.?


Why does the left always fall in favour of making drugs more widely
available to society? Social conservatives are certainly not the ones
clamouring to legalize marijuana, drown citizens in more booze or
readily handout heroin. What is it about the left? The only conclusion
one could come to is the left's political and social agendas are
somehow advanced by promoting a dulled, inebriated and wasted
constituency. This is how the left prefers its voters.

It's pathological to believe it is better for society to abandon the
"just say no to drugs" strategy and favour government providing free
heroin to addicts-as is happening every day at the Providence
Crosstown Clinic in Vancouver's downtown eastside. The publically
funded clinic is the only treatment centre in North America where
heroin is prescribed and administered to patients for free.

If you are a junky and can prove to health authorities you can not or
will not quit shooting up, then the government is all-to-happy to
provide you-courtesy of the taxpayer-free heroin. But only just enough
free heroin to take the edge off-relieving the desire to seek out
street drugs.

Sounds like a wonderful life, forever tethered to a government dose of
a powerful opioid. And, it could indeed be forever as Crosstown, in
lock step with Insite the first legal supervised drug injection site
in North American-also in Vancouver's downtown eastside-refuses to
require addicts to enroll in programs to quit using drugs.

I do agree with my colleague, guest Duel columnist Garth Mullins, that
harm reduction works. There are massive benefits to both the
individual and society when someone swaps something dangerous for
something less harmful. But, when it comes to hard drugs like heroin
we must do more than simply stabilize someone's life, we should strive
to better it. Bettering means quitting.

I could be persuaded to support programs like this, if only proponents
had the courage to push a path to abstinence. It is a missed
opportunity when once stabilized on dependable government heroin that
addicts are not guided down a path towards abstinence.

Dosage could be slowly lowered over the course of a year or two with
the absolute goal of releasing addicts from the prison that is hard
core drug addiction.

Until we seize the moment and enable the path to quitting, society
should not be prescribing or providing heroin to addicts in BC.
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