Pubdate: Sat, 10 July 1999
Source: Irish Times (Ireland)
Copyright: 1999 The Irish Times
Contact:  Letters to Editor, The Irish Times, 11-15 D'Olier St, Dublin 2,
Fax: + 353 1 671 9407
Section: Letters to the Editor
Author: Martin Cooke



I read the two reports concerning resistance, by both local and
business groups, to the establishment of drug treatment facilities in
South Dublin and Dun Laoghaire (July 5th) with a feeling of
frustration and sadness.

Heroin addicts are suffering from an illness. A maintenance programme,
using the heroin substitute methadone, is internationally accepted as
one of the best ways of treating this illness.

No-one would suggest that we should not provide a diabetic with the
insulin necessary to stabilise his condition. Why should heroin
addicts be treated any differently?

The "not in my backyard" attitude shown by local community groups to
the setting up of drug treatment centres shows a complete lack of
compassion towards some of the most damaged and vulnerable members of
their own communities. I would ask those people who are opposing
treatment facilities in their own locality to stop and think what
their attitude would be if it were one of their own sons or daughters
who was trapped by this terrible addiction.

Opposition by local business groups appears to be another
manifestation of the "mE9-fE9iner" mentality that seems to have
developed in our country alongside the growth of the so-called Celtic
tiger. Perhaps the compelling testimony of the heroin addicts quoted
by your reporter might persuade such business groups that it is at
least in their own self-interest to support the setting up of these
drug treatment centres. The quote by one of the addicts receiving
treatment (talking about her prospects if the treatment were stopped):
"You'd have no choice but to go back robbing", says it all.

Although there are some who may argue that heroin addiction is a
self-inflicted condition, this does not mean that society should shirk
the responsibility of trying to help those of its members who fall
victim to it; no more than we would consider refusing to help people
who are addicted to alcohol.

We may pride ourselves that we live in a Christian society. But
attitudes like those shown to the setting up of these treatment
centres convince me that if Christ re-appeared in our midst tomorrow
we would crucify him again.

Yours, etc.,

Co Leitrim.
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