Pubdate: Fri, 16 Feb 2018
Source: Philadelphia Daily News (PA)
Copyright: 2018 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.
Author: Stu Bykofsky


Thank you, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, for giving me
cover so I don't wind up being painted as the "worst person in the
world," the label Keith Olbermann used on his TV show to hang on
people he didn't like.

I have been silent as the opioid epidemic raged because I had no
clear-cut solution. The debate currently swirls around the idea of
city-approved "safe injection sites," more formally known as CUES --
comprehensive user engagement sites.

CUES lacks a clue.

First, contrary to the name, "safe injection sites" are not "safe."

We have so many overdoses because of the unpredictable potency of the
drugs. "You shoot this poison in your veins and you have no idea
whether you're going to live or whether you're going to die," says

Second, the sites would be against the law, Shapiro was quoted as
saying. I was so happy to read that the state's chief law enforcement
officer believes in law, I had to talk to him.

Turns out he has his own ideas about how to fight the opioid epidemic.

First, arrest the dealers. Second, go after doctors to prevent
diversion of legal drugs to illegal use. Finally, he tells me, take on
pharmaceutical companies to slow the flow of drugs into the community.

That injection sites are illegal is something CUES proponents like to
ignore or brush off.

At the (not) safe injection sites, volunteers would provide
life-saving doses of naloxone to those who overdose. Will the (not)
safe injection sites do anything to reduce drug use, or will they
actually expand drug use by providing life preservers?

I understand the impulse to help, but it is misguided.

Would we consider safe smoking sites where tobacco addicts could light
up and be handed oxygen canisters? How about safe alcohol venues where
drunks can get blasted with volunteers waiting to drive them home?
Both smoking and alcohol kill, but not as fast as heroin or fentanyl.

Current progressive thinking is that drug addiction should not be
treated as criminal. Mayor Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner
wrote in an op-ed piece, "We now know that addiction is a disease."
What I know is that if it is, it is voluntary, and defining it purely
as a medical issue seeks to normalize self-destructive behavior. We
are even cautioned not to call them "addicts" because that's so
so mean, I guess.

Most of my life I smoked cigarettes, which we are told is a more
powerful addiction than heroin. Having not been a junkie, I can't be
sure. I quit cigarettes more than two years ago. Nothing would have
worked before then, because I didn't want to quit. The thing we do not
know, the "X" factor, is how to get an addict to want to quit.

In their piece, Kenney and Krasner call for treatment, but the (not)
safe injection sites "do not provide an effective path to treatment,"
Shapiro tells me. Addicts are given clean syringes and medical
supplies, which encourages them to remain addicts -- and also supports
the drug cartel that furnished the drugs. Is that what we want?

Such sites have been open in Vancouver for 14 years, and the results
are mixed.

I think that's the best Philly can expect. The result -- encouraging
illegal behavior and dangerous drug use -- should not be the best we
can do.

- ------------------------------------------------------------------

Stu Bykofsky has been a columnist with the Daily News since 1987. He
has been features editor, theater critic, TV critic, and gossip
columnist. He supports animal causes, civil rights, and fair play, and
opposes political correctness, bicycles on the sidewalk, and most
other forms of selfishness and stupidity.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt