Canada: Stop listening and electing the right-wing troglodytes, Conservatives, as they don’t know what they are talking about and they hurt people with their ignorance.
‘It’s a disease where some element of personal responsibility must still play some role’
By Jen Gerson
Mar 11, 2018
There is a reason the Alberta NDP announced it was opening up “supervised consumption sites” in Calgary late last year.
There’s also a reason they avoided the more commonly known term: safe injection sites.
It’s because while there may, indeed, be a plethora of evidence to suggest that these sites save lives and reduce the spread of disease for people suffering from addiction, they also raise concerns among people who feel we’re moving more toward enabling addicts, than helping them live free of their demons.
While many of us have come around to the idea of drug addiction as a disease — it’s a disease where some element of personal responsibility must still play some role.
Some never try drugs.
Some try, but never get addicted.
Some addicts try to get off drugs, and fail.
Some addicts try and succeed.
There is some combination of genetics, upbringing, trauma and, yes, choice, that we’ve yet to fully unravel in all of this.
But we are more than rats pulling a lever.
‘Helping addicts inject poison’
Safe injection sites don’t appear to raise the public ire as they once did — particularly now that the opioid epidemic sweeping Alberta is collecting exponentially more lives every year.
Or, rather, they didn’t seem to be terribly controversial until United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney decided to make them so.
In a lengthy Facebook post last week, he wrote, “We absolutely need to show compassion for those suffering with addiction, and we need to help them get off drugs.
“But helping addicts inject poison into their bodies is not a long-term solution to the problem.” And there’s the dilemma.
Kenney was roundly lambasted for his comments.
But while the public outcry was apparent, the inner gut wrench was not.
An NDP MLA with more moral authority on the subject than Kenney responded: “He depersonalized anybody with an addiction and labelled them as this horrible person who was bent on doing this awful behaviour,” Debbie Jabbour told Postmedia.
Her daughter died of an overdose in 2017.
Then, Kenney seemed to walk back his comments a few days later, acknowledging a Supreme Court case against the Harper government, which ensures consumption sites can’t be denied a license by the government.
If this back-and-forth is indicative of all the deftness Kenney can muster to outmaneuver the NDP on social issues — well, bub’s still got some work to do.
“I’m not saying I’m opposed to reasonable harm reduction efforts, but I am saying that we need to be realistic about this,” Kenney told Global News.
But he did raise some fair questions about where the logic of such an approach will inevitably takes us.
A moral divide
If we are going to treat drug addiction as a chronic disease — no different in its moral dimension to other lifestyle-impacted illnesses like diabetes or hypertension — then the path becomes clear.
We should offer prevention and abstinence where possible, and ongoing treatment where it is not.
And this will mean providing some chronic addicts lifelong access to clean, regulated drugs so they can manage their addiction.
This, just as someone with a faulty pancreas injects insulin.
Lest anyone accuse me of slippery-slope fear mongering — it’s currently happening.
There are already pilot programs in place to provide taxpayer-funded opiates for severe and chronic addicts.
And there’s a reason.
We can’t just tell drug addicts to buck up and get their lives together.
Nobody can kick a drug habit if they’re dead.