Is Harm Reduction saving lives or costing them?
One of the great ironies here is that the Social Justice religion, which places the Victim (of anything and everything from "historical forces" to "power differentials" to that evil mark of Cain they call "Stigma") at the center of its movement and which is to California what Catholicism is to Rome, will end up killing many more of its sacred Victims than would have died or suffered otherwise.
I've said here before that I lived four years recently in Venice, CA, and I've seen all this up close: Social Justice disciples will vehemently furiously denounce anyone or anything in the most unhinged language if they suggest even one limit to the rights of junkies to do as they please at all times (thus meaning junkies' rights become paramount in any situation), even if this supposed right has the same result as giving a bottle of whiskey to a drunk or a bucket of KFC to someone morbidly obese.
The Social Justice religion has conquered the world because it allows people and organizations and esp politicians to purchase virtue on the cheap, with other people paying the price. But often the most compassionate thing you can do for people is to say NO. Otherwise your "compassion" is really about making yourself feel (and be seen as) good, world be damned.
As much as any opiate or fentanyl, the Social Justice religion's potent hit of self-righteousness, of making its users feel higher than anyone else when it comes to Caring and Being on the Right Side of History™, is the true Californian epidemic and I don't know if there will be any cure in our lifetimes.
Harm reduction and low/no barrier housing are why Seattle and San Francisco and other like minded cities are the hell holes they are today. Some things are just not okay, like defecating in public or pitching your tent next to an elementary school while you pursue your drug-addicted "freedom" to live however you want. I wouldn't wish the life of an addict in one of these 'caring' cities on my worst enemy. If we really cared, we'd say no. No we won't affirm your throwing away the one precious life you have. No we won't watch you rot out your body and soul while you slowly die right in front of us. Harm reduction doesn't save lives, all it does is extend a miserable existence for a few more days or months or years. By the way, Vancouver BC, a pioneer in harm reduction, had the most ever overdose deaths in the first 9 months of 2022.
It sounds like "harm reduction" has been reduced to absurdity.
When I think of harm reduction I think of things like this:
In Canada (far away from Vancouver, pointedly) a few years ago a clinic began making its own wine to serve to resident alcoholics - just enough to keep the shakes away and no more. As you'd expect, some took this as a chance to augment whatever rotgut whiskey they could procure outside. But many used it to taper, and while the results aren't a 100% conclusive slam-dunk, it's clear that many individuals did have their harm reduced this way. It was a strictly regulated pour - five ounces of wine once an hour - and wasn't given to anyone who was intoxicated. So while it was indeed giving booze to winos, it was controlled.
The rough equivalent to this article would be giving Everclear to anyone who showed up and asked for it - and not once an hour, either. This has gone past harm reduction and into simple enabling, and while enabling peoples' choices is exactly what the proponents of these policies want, I think it's hugely misguided.
Thank you for the article.
Reality is doggedly refusing to conform to predictions and prescriptions of the SJW. Will they be allowed to continue unto our destruction? How long until America resembles Venezuela? We can see a clear outline now.￼, yes?
None of this is actually done with the addicts in mind. I used to think all of this SJW action was just misguided - maybe ill conceived, maybe with benefits outweighed by unintended consequences, maybe naïve... but no.
The longer it goes on, the clearer it becomes more obvious that this is purely a cynical, narcissistic scam. It’s becoming sobering even worse. These grifters have quickly moved from simply using the mentally ill to line their own pockets (and egos) on to actually *creating* the mental illness that supplies them with helpful grift opportunities.
BLM and their obvious financial larceny is the tiniest tip of the iceberg. There are multimillionaires being created every day on the back of this grifting industry. And money is probably the least of what is being stolen. Lives are destroyed on multiple axes.
Obviously the addicts, stoned out of their minds, defecting and dying on the streets are being destroyed. But so are their families, residents around them, the wider society, and all the other people who are drawn into the fantasy that being “broken” confers specialness.
Finally, anyone who resists this insanely destructive wave is treated with unlimited firepower. There is no limit to the punishment brought down on dissenters. Financial, social, professional & personal destruction are completely openly sought. Anyone with any concerns is branded as a violent extremist; few people are willing to undergo that, just to express concern for others.
Obviously, not only drug addicts are the fuel - but they’re the most obvious. There is starting to be some mild dissent, but I’ve begun to despair that this will ever be recoverable.
Harm reduction leading to more death may be a silver lining. I know that’s harsh, I have no animus and wish it were not so, but, face it, stupidity begets what it will and a 10 year old could easily see abstinence is the cornerstone. ￼￼ The entire exercise is futile, these are illegal drugs, arrest and imprison users until there are no more users to arrest and imprison (also obvious to a 10 year old).￼￼￼￼
I notice that you provided no details regarding the success outlook for addicts which have been completely abstinent of drugs...I know why that- There aren't any!
Opioids are essentially impossible to completely discontinue use of after years and successfully maintain full sobriety without the aide of medications to regulate the chemical imbalance caused by years of hard opioid addiction.- 95% of users end up relapsing without replacement therapies.
You are correct- many addicts will use Methadone maintenance as a way to stay well when they cannot afford or source narcotics...most Methadone clinics force a patient to return to the site DAILY to obtain their doses- they are almost ALWAYS slammed into environments with active users with no intention on ever actually getting clean...it jeopardizes those of us who DO use the programs as they are meant to be- it threatens our sobriety by putting us back in with the people we want out from.
Replacement therapy is the reason I'm here and I'm functional. I take single-ingredient Bupenorphine; as I have been clean and free of relapse for more than three years...the Bupenorphine is an effective analgesic independantly and it can be used for legitimate chronic pain (which I have).
Suboxone is the Bupenorphine preparation cut with Naloxeone...and it is incredibly hard on patients hearts! Doctors prescribe suboxone for long term maintenance but the reality is that Naloxeone is not a drug that someone would want to take every day for years.
Big pharmaceutical and the FDA have done a pretty damn good job of hiding the realities of suboxones negative concequences years down the line.
It is no longer a 'mystery' as to why best health and well-being practice of 'abstinence' from psychotropic toxins has been excised from much of the 'new' drug policy arena. Sadly, pro-drug actors have been chipping away at this actively for over a decade and now have wrested the language through re-tasking definitions. Many of these bad actors have aligned themselves with genuine harm reductionists, who hate drugs, but do want to save lives and help substance users exit said use. These saboteurs of important policy seek only to normalize drug use and care nothing for the growing egregious harms that ever increasing 'permission models' will eventuality bring to individuals, families and their communities. We have watched this happen and challenged it at every step. The Australian National Drug Strategy is Harm Minimisation - but it has three key pillars, Demand Reduction is (on paper) the highest priority, then Supply Reduction, then Harm Reduction for those who have become the sadly, inevitable casualties of 'recreational' drug use. However, the re-tasking of language (everything from 'stigma' to 'human rights to self-harm' mantras etc) to make everything 'harm reduction' is now actively undermining the first two pillars of Demand and Supply reduction, creating the ever-self-fulling prophecy that drug use is acceptable. A series of sessions on this hijacking can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjMD6CE0nx0&list=PLTMqlfT-1C1x7ekCSxIhF6HMjHBqMAK6n
People stop using drugs when they decided to. Kicking them when they are down doesn’t convince them to quit. Perhaps rehab in jail is slightly better than court ordered rehab, which does not work at all, but it is easier to find drugs in jail than it is on the street. The overwhelming majority of drug users “age out” of addiction, an inconvenient fact that the moralizing crusaders against drug use always forget to mention.
If you really care about the lives of addicts legalize drug use. We ruined millions of lives needlessly for no reason because we decided that smoking pot was immoral. People are going to get high. Get over it. It’s not your business what someone else does with their body or their life. Sure give them choices, that great. Offer them sobriety and help them on that journey if they want to go there. But enforced sobriety is a joke.
It’s never really been about saving Iives. The Dutch showed us how to do that: rehab for those that that it can help and free prescription heroin for those that can’t or won’t quit. But that won’t satisfy the moralizing public who won’t be satisfied until they can lord it over someone they believe is “lesser” than they are.
Another great article.
What I would love to see are numbers, though they may be hard to find. What is the death rate among those who live in areas with "harm reduction" policies and addicts who, say, find themselves in prison and thereby forced to give up drugs? While I hate to reduce it all to death, that is the one number that can be measured and is harder to spin.
Whatever they are trying to achieve, it is clear the California Legislature has no interest in reducing, let alone eliminating, drug addiction.
An almost unbelievable amount of bs is in this article. Harm reduction comes out of the experiences of Amsterdam in the 70s. They had a huge heroin overdose problem and now they don’t.
Addicts quit using when they decide to. Over half of all drug addicts in their 20s have stopped using 10 years later. It’s called “aging out” and is well understood and documented. The rehab and get tough on crime pushers don’t want you to know this, so they never mention it.
Putting people in jail doesn’t get them clean, though it can force them into rehab. Drugs are so easy to get in jail that people are *more* likely to use them than on the street. Think about that for a moment. Even in the most locked down place in our society we can’t stop drug smuggling and use. Why do the pro-incarceration crowd imagine that we can stop it on the outside?
Harm reduction saved 4,000 lives in San Francisco alone. The people who run it down would apparently prefer that these people just die. I guess that’s one way to get rid of your “drug addict problem”, just let them all kill themselves.
If these people really cared about the lives of addicts, they would decriminalize it and allow addicts to purchase cheap pharmaceutical grade drugs so that they don’t overdose. They give free heroin to drug addicts who fail rehab in Amsterdam. Guess what, almost no overdoses.
Prohibition doesn’t work and it never has. It didn’t work with alcohol. It didn’t work with marijuana. Remember all the “this is your brain on drugs” and other reefer madness bullshit that they tried to peddle on young people? How many lives were ruined with harsh sentences for a harmless herb?
The Economist recently ran an article “Legalize It” which argued that the societal cost of cocaine prohibition far outweighed and gain from less usage. People will make their own choices and no amount of thuggery from cops and well meaning but misguided citizens will change that. Prohibition doesn’t work and will never work. Someday we will figure that out.