Thursday, August 30, 2007

In response to "Canada's shooting gallery"

Today the Wall Street Journal published a letter I wrote. It's about drugs. More specifically, about supervised injection centers. I wrote it in response to an op-ed that appeared in the WSJ this Monday.

Breaking my own rules about posting one blog entry per week, and doing it on Fridays, here's my letter:

In response to Mary O'Grady's “Canada’s Shooting Gallery" (Americas, Aug. 27) (here's the op-ed if you're not subscribed to the WSJ) :

Providing clean injection equipment and a safe place to use drugs is a far cry from “engaging in drugging the citizenry” or “encouraging drug use”. Supervised injection centers like InSite (I know of a similar one in Madrid) do not provide either drugs or drug substitutes or information on where to get those substances. Plus, they are located in drug- and crime-ridden neighborhoods, and are frequented by destitute addicts. How are those centers supposed to encourage the average citizen to start doing drugs?

As for people who are already in the habit, their addiction is a far more powerful motive to continue using drugs than the free needles. Needles are already cheap and easy to get. Drugs are expensive, dangerous to obtain and potentially deadly, and yet addicts continue to consume them regularly.

Interestingly enough, Ms. O'Grady mentions the “bright white lights,” the “cold clinical setting” and the “no smoking” signs that one can find at InSite. None of that sounds too inviting. Perhaps if we furnished the center with dim, warm lights and plush armchairs, Ms. O'Grady would be right in claiming that the government encourages drug use.

Centers such as InSite send the message, “We know you exist.” Feeling acknowledged may make drug addicts feel part of society and be willing to rejoin it. And, regardless of whether they feel acknowledged or not, simply making it easy for addicts to sign up for detoxification programs, like those centers do, will only increase the numbers of those who quit using.

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