Monday, February 1, 2010

Street Talk

A university student writing in a campus newspaper back east a few days ago attacked the Harper government for trying to shut down Insite, The student held up the facility as a great modern boon to practically everything.

Our good friend, Al Arsenault, who worked the DTES as a city cop for a great many years, has a slightly different take.

Hi David

I have a hard timer reading the drivel coming from people who know absolutely nothing about drug addiction as well, but every once in a while I have to pen a few words: this is what I told the author:

As a long-time DTES beat officer who was walking those mean streets of Vancouver before HR ever showed up, I have seen the devastation that drug abuse has inflicted on this community. Do you call the very high rates of infectious drug-related disease quoted a success? Show me the plunging graph line of how infectious diseases were curtailed from the late 1980’s with the “highly successful” Needle Exchange to the present slick Supervised Injection Site (SIS). I defy anyone in the medical community to plot this long-term course of ruin. Wake up! There are scores of people hobbling around now down there with missing limbs, so sick is that population. BandAiding them to death is so compassionate, isn’t it? OD deaths went up from 50 to 64 in the (Vancouver) Health District that hosts the SIS in the first year of operation (2003-4). It was deviously hailed as a “success” by their spokesperson Gillian Maxwell (Google her name and the ‘2020 Group’ for the drug legalization aspects of the operation). She used the provincial decline stats from 186 to 171, citing a lack of knowledge about the deaths more pertinent to the operation of the SIS. Since then detailed health district by health district OD death stats have not been publicized.

All sanctimony aside, no one dies from OD’s, nor does anyone ever get a drug-related disease, in good treatment. Why? Because, by definition, they separate the addict from the drug. Period. Look up the Therapeutic Community Treatment Model. How’s that for life-saving measures? How about the so-called ‘Center of Excellence’ doing a study on the relative benefits of long-term treatment vs. long-term Harm Reduction, if they really want to help solve them problem of drug addiction? Ever hear of San Patrignano?

The sad reality here is that the rich get treatment while the poor get harm reduction.

After over two decades of HR, you might have a live addict but most likely a diseased addict. Imagine what could be accomplished with just a few good years of treatment. If you look closely at those poor souls down there, those with one foot in the ditch and the other (if they still have their other leg) in the grave, you might see someone badly in need of treatment. They really don’t need a box of needles and a place to shoot up. Heaven forbid we judge their drug-related behaviour as per the HR mantra. But we do owe it to them to do just that- not to judge WHO they are as people, but to show how their drug use is costing themselves, their families and the community at large. The junkie industry thrives on the pandering to the whims of those too sick to ask for help (can they get help in a timely fashion in the shadow of HR?).

True compassion lies not in giving an addict what she/he WANTS, rather it is based upon the sober, connected, and compassionate gift of what he really NEEDS- decent treatment.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So very well said. Why is no-one listening - and providing treatment?
I know, I know - and it makes me sick.