Pubdate: Wed, 23 Jun 1999
Source: Canberra Times (Australia)
Author: Geoff Page


I NOTE with interest your juxtapositioning of letters on harm-minimisation
strategies by Peter Trickett and Harry Hobbs (CT, 16 June).

Like his frequent fellow correspondent C. A. Parrett, Mr Trickett is
obsessed with "cure" rates.

Even assuming his reporting of Swiss heroin trials "curing" only 5.2 per
cent of their subjects is correct, he assumes, I think wrongly, that this
was the "primary goal".

The real questions to ask in these cases, as with similar proposals in
Australia, are to what extent was the rate of fatal overdoses reduced and
what impact did the provision of prescription heroin have on local crime

Messrs Trickett and Parrett are, in effect, telling us that the present
generation of addicts should be sacrificed in the hope that the continued,
but clearly failing, "war against drugs" might possibly prevent still
younger people taking them up.

How instructive it is then, in view of the conservatism of these gentlemen,
to see the 10-year-old Harry Hobbs making the self-evident point that "any
idea that could save lives is worth trying".

The current abstinence treatments supported by these gentleman are
admittedly "an idea worth trying" (and do work for a depressingly low number
of addicts) but they are clearly not reversing the steady climb of
heroin-overdose deaths.

To judge from the majority of overseas reports, it seems that safe injecting
rooms and heroin trials do make a difference.

As Harry Hobbs says, "any idea that could save lives is worth trying". Why
is it that we need a 10-year-old to tell us the obvious?

GEOFF PAGE Narrabundah

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