Wednesday, December 23, 2009

At the Heart of THE BIG LIE

As reported here yesterday, a noxious fog has descended upon us.

Your governments will spend many millions of dollars giving 300+ heroin addicts free heroin and heroin pill substitutes over the next four years.

The mad fools behind this wasteful, destructive scheme are all honorable men and women, leaders in our community.

They bring to mind Hannah Arendt's famous dictum about "the banality of evil."

These are some of the people who sit on the board of the strangely named InnerChange Foundation:

Richard Mulcaster.

I know Richard and I like him.

I had lunch with him last year to discuss this very matter.

Richard was for many years the President and CEO of the Vancouver Foundation, for whom he did a wonderful job.

When he left, he told me that he would probably do some international charity work for CEDA.

Instead, he surfaced with this job.

Knowing my staunch and unchanging opposition to horrible bad ideas like this one, he invited me to talk about it over some good food at a favorite local eatery.

As always, he was good company. He's a good man.

But he is mistaken.

He is wrong about this endeavour and although I asked him, "WHY?" he could never really tell me why an otherwise reasonable person would champion such nonsense.

He sang the praises of the German psychiatrist who is at the core of this "experiment."

Dr Michael Krausz, MD, PhD, FRCPC

  • UBC/Providence Health Care Leadership Chair in Addiction Research Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences (CHEOS) St.Paul's Hospital
  • Founding Fellow of the Institute of Mental Health at UBC
  • Member of the Brain Research Centre at UBC
  • Member of the Research Advisory Council of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
  • Member of the Canadian Centre of Substance Abuse (CCSA) of the Vancouver Foundation
  • Fellow of the World Innovation Foundation (WIF)

Dr. Krausz started his professional carrier as a nurse in adolescent psychiatry working especially with young psychotic clients. After Medical School in Hamburg the H. Böckler Foundation awarded him a doctoral grant. He wrote his thesis on long-term course of schizophrenia starting in adolescence. In 1985 he started his residency in Adult Psychiatry until 1991. Parallel he wrote his PhD on "Psychosis and Addiction" evaluating the entanglement of severe mental illness and harmful use of psychotropic substances, which then became the major research focus of his further work. He became then responsible for big studies about mental illness among intravenous drug users with over 1000 individuals and especially the German Heroin trial as biggest randomized clinical trial in Addiction Research in Europe in this field. He could show, that it is possible to improve the most difficult to treat clients with the appropriate intervention and contributed to an important paradigm shift through clinical research. He founded and edited two scientific journals, which until now have a mayor impact in this area: European Addiction Research and Suchttherapie. 240 publications and even more invited presentations standing for his scientific contributions until now. After over 20 years in different positions in Germany he was selected as the first Providence BC Leadership Chair for Addiction Research in 2005.

As you can see, Dr. Krausz has made himself a world authority on the subject of addictions.

I have only one question for the good doctor.

How many addicts have you helped become clean and sober, sir?

I have helped thousands and so have my friends and colleagues in the rehab business.

But oh.

I'm sorry. I forgot.

You're not in the people helping business.

You're in the scientific research business.

The nutty research business.

The business that pays no mind to the dreadful harming consequences of your arcane research.

Here are two more doctors at the heart of InnerChanges:

Dr. John Blatherwick

Dr. John Blatherwick is currently retiring as the Chief Medical Health Officer of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. He has been the Medical Health Officer in Vancouver since 1984. Prior to this he was the Medical Health Officer in the Simon Fraser Health Unit for nine years.
Dr. Blatherwick was awarded the Order of Canada in 1994 for his work in public health and received an award as a Canadian Health Hero from the Pan American Health Organization in 2002. He was also the recipient of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.

Dr. Perry Kendall

Dr. Kendall is the Provincial Health Officer for British Columbia. He has pioneered programs for Harm Reduction, AIDS/HIV and drug abuse prevention in British Columbia and Ontario. He helped to form the Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario, and the Addiction and Mental Health Services Corporation.

In 1991 he was recognized for leadership in substance abuse prevention in Ontario and received an Addiction Research Foundation Community Achievement Award. He was awarded the Order of British Columbia for his contributions to Public Health practice and to harm reduction policy and practice in British Columbia.

Isn't the phrase "first do no harm" a central part of the Hippocratic Oath...

No, it isn't, but over the years we have all come to believe that this is a core dedication for doctors.

Explain then how these two good men and imminent physicians can want to give drugs to drug addicts and still sleep at night?

Why aren't they joining the good fight to help addicts NOT use more drugs?

"And how dare I question or challenge these honorable men?"you ask.

Because I have done the work and, in spite of all their awards and citations, they have not.

I know next to nothing about the flow and composition of blood in the human body, as they know next to nothing about addictions.

The sooner they re-focus on the practice of medicine and leave the addictions work to people who understand it, the better off the whole community will be.

And finally, bringing up the rear of InnerChanges, where he belongs is:

Hon. John Reynolds, P.C.

Mr. Reynolds started his political career in 1972, when he was elected a Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament for the British Columbia riding of Burnaby-Richmond-Delta. He was also elected to the BC Provincial Legislature, and served as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and as Minister of Environment. He returned to the House of Commons as a Reform Party Member and served as Opposition House Leader and Leader of the Official Opposition. He co-chaired the national Conservative Party campaign in the 2006 federal election. He is currently a Senior Strategic Advisor to Lang Michener, a law firm in Vancouver.

All back room, all cloak-and-dagger, all out-of-sight string pulling.


So write and email your MLA and your MP and your City Council member and point out that we are all mad, that we are throwing good money after bad to further enslave and entrap people who are already caught in the web, that we need to get more bang for our buck by funding REAL TREATMENT THAT WORKS.

That there is an officially sanctioned evil amongst us and it should be discredited at every possible turn.

There is no surer example in our culture today that I can think of that so clearly demonstrates how far off the rails we have fallen.


Dave C. said...


I have great respect for your long involvement in the development of effective treatment programs for addicts. I totally agree with your position that for true and enduring rehabilitation to take place, abstinence from drug use is an essential first step. But I also believe that governments are not funding long-term treatment programs because sympathy for addicts is not a vote-getter. What does seem to sell are the programs that are purported to reduce crime and/or infections by providing drugs/injection sites to addicts so that they don't need to engage in criminal/unsafe activities to support their habits. Saving taxpayers money seems to trump funding for effective treatment programs.

However, what is needed is a government that values the well-being of all citizens and is prepared to fund both approaches to this growing problem. For me, this is more of an ethical-moral issue than an argument about which approach is more valid. In my view, particularly as we enter an expensive Olympic year, we can do both if we really care about creating a compassionate society.


David Berner said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Dave C.

The key to your postion is this phrase:

"What does seem to sell are the programs that are purported to reduce crime and/or infections by providing drugs/injection sites to addicts so that they don't need to engage in criminal/unsafe activities to support their habits."

And the key word is PURPORTED.

Unfortunately, as any cop on the beat or any addict or real addcition worker will tell you PURPORT is the best such efforts can do.

Do you see crime being reduced in the DTES or anywhere in Vancouver or Victoria or Nanaimo?

The programs do not work.

Forget the important moral and ethical questions for a moment.

They don't work. End of tale.

Gerry Verrier said...

Dave C, your post is well thought out and obviously shows you to be an open-minded and compassionate man who cares about the health of his community.

I do want you to consider one point.

You make reference to addicts "needing" to commit crime to support their habit.

I will suggest, good sir, that addicts do not "need' to do any of it. I will suggest that they "want" to do those things in order to feed the habit that they "want" to continue with.

This is the very concept that good folks with little experience with addictions don't understand about addictions. Addiction is very much about choice. We all make our decisions based on a set of values. It just so happens that an addict's core values are all centred around their addiction. They make choices based on those values, just like you or I with our own set of values. Addicts will very much want to convince the world that their bad behaviour is based on need. It isn't. It's based on want.

Anonymous said...

Addicts, while in their addiction do not make "choices" - they are driven to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to feed their addiction - period. I know this to be a fact.

Key words up there ^^ psychiatrist and experiment - Add to that the word "history" and do a bit of reading into some psychiatric "experiments". Sorry - the bottom line is FAIL.


Anonymous said...

What can I say but " The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

An acquittance's daughter just died due to a long term addiction which started in grade 7. It is an ugly story, paved with good intentions.

The sad story is that her few friends all are addicts and have a very short life expectancy.

I did not go to the funeral (I did not know until a week after) but had a few beers after and he talked about the whole episode of drug addicts, especially those who start so young.

It is an ugly story, filled with notable but ugly people. It is a who's who of those who profit from addictions, to those who take advantage and if libel laws were not so harsh in Canada, I would name names. Alas I cannot, for you would not print it.

It saddens me and embitters me that so many notable people are profiting from addictions and death.

It is not just the dealers but the do-gooders or higher purpose persons too.

Ugly, ugly, ugly!

Evil Eye

Gerry Verrier said...

June, please do tell how you know addictions so well that you will state as FACT that addicts are driven and are not making choices. I'm very curious as to your evidence that substantiates your claim that this is fact.

I'm curious to know how anyone does anything without making a conscious decision about it.

I'm also curious to see if you can explain how it is that well over 50 million people in the US alone have managed to quit smoking cigarettes without any programs or substitutes. It is common knowledge that nicotine is one of the most addictive substances, yet how did all those folks mange to quit? I'll tell you how. They DECIDED that they didn't want to smoke anymore. How does one make a decision? Well, they weigh the pros and cons and they either re-embrace old values or create new ones that suggest that smoking does not fit for them anymore for whatever reason (health, money) and they QUIT! Or they DECIDE that quitting is too difficult and they CHOOSE to continue to smoke.

How did I quit my 15 year addiction to cocaine and morphine? It dawned on me one day that a judge was going to throw me in Stony Mountain Penitentiary for a good long stretch if I didn't stop. It also helped that my parents and most of my siblings were leaving me behind my narcissistic and criminal behaviour had become simply too much. I had to make a DECISION . In other words, I had to CHOOSE between stopping or continuing. I decided to quit. I decided I was tired of doing time while life walked by outside my prison cell.

Don't get me wrong. It was not easy. It was in fact a process that many people decide to walk away from because it is easier to use drugs to hide from the world than it is to be straight and deal with world in an honourable and productive fashion once you have developed the habit of living life that way.

I will say one thing with absolute certainty. I am so glad that those who supported me through out my treatment never thought to suggest I needed a substitute drug like methadone to help me through the detox process. I'm not so sure I would be here today if I had gone that route. What worked so much more effectively through my treatment was having people stand by my side who believed in me and expected me to be a better person.

I look forward to your response.

Anonymous said...

I find you to be angry and confrontational and will certainly not get into personal matters on a public blog. Perhaps we are to some degree talking semantics. You use the term "conscious decision". Ever hear of a black out? The word "choice" standing alone, without a lot of discussion/elaboration, in my opinion is too simplistic and does not tell the whole story of addiction and resulting actions/behaviours - and perhaps some of the psychology of addiction is to begin by asking "why" one makes the "original" choice - when of a clear, sober, un-driven state of mind - to escape into these drugs - and/or behaviours, i.e. gambling, spending, etc.


Gerry Verrier said...

Angry and confrontational? Angry? Not so much. I think irritated might be a better description. Irritated at what? Irritated at a system that is self serving and irritated with a public that is perpetuating false ideas about a social problem they do not understand. Confrontational? Is there another way to be when a statement is made as fact that I believe is patently false?

I have heard of blackouts. I work in the business and have done so for over 20 years. I'm not so sure that blackouts are valid. I've yet to see a scientific document that proves the idea. I know of people who have claimed to be in "blackout" mode where they have managed for example to find the car keys their partner had hidden, gotten into their car and driven across town to end up smashing their car into someone else's car causing bodily harm. I can't help but see many many decisions having been made in that scenario where the person could have decided, intoxicated or not, to do something very different that would have ended in a whole different way. Like starting with the first drink. The truth is that in many instances, blackouts sure sound good in court.

I do agree that this might be about semantics and I do think we're on the same page. I do become passionate about the topic because at the end of the day, the gov't is wasting money on highly paid bureaucrats who's only interest is to keep themselves in business and to make sure the kickbacks from Big Pharma keep rolling in. It is also deeply disturbing and offensive to me that gov't supports the idea that addicts are permanently damaged and need to be on methadone for the rest of their lives. It is even more offensive that gov't wants to use my hard earned tax dollars to pay for it.

Anonymous said...

Let me just add here that I sincerely congratulate you on your recovery and wish you well.

I will also add the following in the hope that the information may help someone and perhaps even save a life - which has happened often.

We, here in B.C. have access to the largest quit smoking organization in the world and other provinces in Canada sponsor it as well. It is called Quitnet (based in the USA) and can be accessed/joined by Googling (Sponsored by the B.C. Lung Association). I just dropped in to The Q - as it is affectionately called and there were 8400 people online from many places around the world - all ages from very young to "gettin' on" :-) Membership for B.C. residents is paid for by our provincial government (ministry of health) - it is free.

There are counsellors, groups, all the support, help and information one needs - 24/7 - plus the possibility of forming life long friendships.

I cannot for the life of me understand why our government does not advertise this more. Oh, yes - they are being a bit stingy with people/health-helping matters right now, aren't they? We *do* have the Olympics...then of course there is all that tax money they collect on the sale of the death sticks...

The statistics on smoking cessation - success/relapse and smoking related illnesses and deaths are still very troubling - I have had friends die due to this addiction. If one needs help - it is there. One merely has to join (anonymously if one chooses). Quitnet and the group support saves lives. It saved mine - literally - and I and others stay and give back..


Anonymous said...

"I'm not so sure that blackouts are valid"

I am...and again I state that because I know it to be a fact - and a terrifying happening when one is un-drugged (sober) enough to realize that time, spoken words - and actions within a certain period (blackout) are totally missing from memory.
Any "excuse" can be and is used in court I suppose, however, I was speaking of the term only in relation to "choice" - conscious choice as opposed to being "driven". They don't call it insanity for no reason...

We *are* on the same page so no neeed to argue really... :-)

Anoneeeemous (Sometimes, I need to keep it light.)

Anonymous said...

This could go on all all night. :-) I neglected to say that in my opinion, discussions of choice vs. being driven, etc.during the time one is addicted in no way eliminates responsibility;

Responsibility for doing whatever it takes to end the addiction.

Responsibiity for being honest, first and foremost with oneself (self examination) - as well as with others.

...and last but not least

Responsibility for living a life which harms no-one, including one's self.