Buprenorphine, one of several drugs now commonly used to help get people off heroin and other opioids, does a lot to reduce the potential harm of drug addiction. But does it really change an addict into a non-addict? This is something you should carefully consider if you or someone you care about is looking into going to drug rehab, and want it to be successful.
There are a lot of businesses that cause or profit from man’s ills. The alcohol industry helps to cause and profits from the women and children beaten by drunken husbands and fathers, motor vehicle accidents that cut lives short, lost families, lost livelihoods, and lost dreams. The chemical industry profits by poisoning us with everything from pesticides to dishwashing liquid. The food industry profits by feeding us food that is barely recognizable as such and no longer nourishes us. And in partnership with the chemical industry’s food additives, that ‘food’ also destroys our health. But none is so disgraceful as big pharma – an industry that in large part makes its profit by preying on the weakness and illness of man. After fueling the worst drug addiction epidemic ever, they are now trying to capture the addiction treatment industry as well.
I frequently read articles about harm reduction programs in Vancouver, B.C. They have more than most cities in North America – safe injections sites, methadone programs, naloxone – and in some cases they were the first in North America to have them. Why are they so focused on just the bare minimum of keeping people alive instead of actually getting people through an alcohol or drug addiction rehab program so they can stop being addicts?
It’s good to know that fewer junkies are using dirty needles and crack addicts are using clean, new pipes, but whatever happened to drug addiction treatment?! Some cities seem to have lost hope of actually getting people off drugs. Vancouver, for example, now offers crack pipes in vending machines!
A drug addiction treatment center that offers long-term residential help is the only solution to heroin addiction; but if governments don’t approve funding, that type of treatment may be hard to come by.
If heroin addicts don’t have access to a long-term residential drug addiction treatment center they sometimes turn to solutions that simply reduce the potential harm caused by the addiction. Safe injections sites are a prime example. Insite, the first safe injection site in North America, is now under attack by Canada’s Minister of Health, who thinks these sites condone heroin addiction. But at the same time, he’s withholding funding for a drug addiction treatment center that could really handle the problem. Where is an addict to turn?
A safe injection site is just what it sounds like – heroin addicts go to the location to shoot up. They bring their own drugs, and inject them at the site. So, how is that a step in the right direction? The addicts use clean needles and thereby lower their risk of HIV, AIDS and hepatitis (and the possibility of those being spread to others), used needles don’t wind up littering the streets where they can, and will be, used by someone else, and since the addicts are shooting up in the presence of staff who watch over them, the number of overdose deaths is reduced.
True, that doesn’t handle heroin addiction; for that you need a long-term residential drug rehab center. But it does reduce the harm to both the addict and others, it exposes heroin addicts to people who they might never be in contact with otherwise who will try to guide them into the treatment that will end their addiction, and it reduces health care and other costs for the city.
Insite, located in Vancouver, Canada, has come under attack more than once and is currently under the fire of Tony Clement, Canada’s Minister of Health. Clement argues that Insite does nothing to handle the heroin addiction problem and, in fact, encourages it.
While there’s no doubt that getting people into rehab is the only way to handle heroin addiction, anyone who thinks a safe injection site is going to turn people into heroin addicts or even encourage them doesn’t understand the heroin addiction problems these sites are trying to resolve.
First of all, absolutely no one is going to get addicted to heroin because there’s some safe place they can shoot up. Second, the people these sites deal with aren’t people who have decided to end their heroin addiction, they’re people who either are not up to that at all or who have tried but been unsuccessful – which is the case with 95% of heroin addicts who make the attempt on their own. And there are plenty of them.
Clement says he wants something that will really handle heroin addiction. Nevertheless, he’s trying to cut heroin addicts off the from the only contact they have in their lives that might make that possible and, worse, he’s dragging his feet on funding the type of addiction treatment that can really handle the problem.
The British Columbia government has pledged $2.4 million to finance a long-term residential drug addiction treatment center that is to begin accepting people for treatment in January. A request has also been made to the federal government for $2 million to help with the funding but, after a year, it still hasn’t been approved. If Clement is so hot on ending heroin addiction, where’s the money?