Tag Archives: harm-reduction

Where is Personal Responsibility in all those “harm reduction” strategies?

man-with-headIn Canada, and in British Columbia, we’re being told there is a public health “crisis” or “emergency” over the perils of addiction, over-dosing, and death. Recently, intravenous drug users having been dropping dead in significant numbers in B.C.–about two a day due to the appearance on the streets over this past year of the drug fentanyl–a cheaper, far more powerful, artificial opioid. This cheaply manufactured drug is being smuggled into Canada from China.

To counter this “crisis” among those ensnared in opioid addiction, many of the so-called experts are calling for more “harm-reduction” strategies. The governing liberal elite wants more supervised safe injection sites–I think they’re asking for 4 or 5 just on Vancouver Island! And now some druggie activists are calling for the Government to supply free heroin to the addicts in order to cut down on the number of deaths due to the flood of cheap opioid knock-offs like fentanyl. But this “harm-reduction” approach begs the question–Is it perpetuating rather than solving the addictions problem? For some time the liberal media’s gatekeepers have bought into the harm reduction strategy as the best way to go, pushing anyone who might raise an objection to this strategy onto the digital sidelines of what’s being touted as “wisdom” and “compassion.”  However recently, some respected Canadian media commentators like Les Leyne are now having some doubts about whether this “harm reduction” ideology is, in fact, just perpetuating addictions and making things worse!

This past week, CBC radio aired a “compelling interview about two young women who sounded like seasoned and,  from the voice of one of them, mentally scarred veterans of the illicit-drug scene. One of them was in her mid-30s and gushing with enthusiasm about her drug use, whether this was at a “safe” injection site or not. The other was an 18 year-old doper whose only goal in life seemed to be “get high and relax.”

Commenting on these CBC interviewees, Les Leyne noted, “Safe sites or no, they’re both staring death in the face. The question is whether the latest effort to protect them from themselves by reducing some of the danger associated with routinely using drugs mogueamounts to just perpetuating behaviour that leads in only one direction–an inevitable trip to the morgue subsidized by the government and generous private individuals.

“The concept of personal responsibility seemed so distant that you feel like an old fuddy-duddy just thinking about it” (Les Leyne, “Are we perpetuating addictions,” TC, Nov. 16, 2016)

Responding to Leyne’s newspaper column, a 61-year-old self-confessed “addict enabler” with more than 300 years of addiction exposure among family and friends wrote in a letter to the editor:

“Whether heroin, cocaine, meth, or medical marijuana, all levels of government actively support the illicit drug industry. The city (of Victoria) and Province of British Columbia can’t afford to eradicate hard street drugs because addiction and its related services and products is very big business here, employing many. Truly, neither the addict, nor community at large is protected.”

“Counsellors I saw about the addiction issues of my family members, and friends recommended tough love: stop financing the addiction destruction by paying bills, buying groceries, providing clean needles–and other cheap drug equipment— providing free clothing, meds, housing, furniture, transportation–and soon a safe place to shoot up, too.”

rising-heroin-deaths“It’s time for something completely different and revolutionary that’ll give addicts the tools and desire to care about themselves. Pay addicts to get clean and to stay clean–instead of using ridiculous amounts of money to keep them addicted. If we care about addicts, we must motivate them to heal and discontinue the self-destructive habits whatever way we can.”

Our governing elite would never embrace such an idea that explicitly insists on druggies taking personal responsibility for their situation.  I dare say Mr. Leyne has been taking a certain amount of flak for his comments because they just aren’t politically correct.

The Scriptures point out there is a big difference between those who subscribe to the concept of personal responsibility and those who don’t.

Proverbs 9:7-9 (AMP) 7 He who corrects and instructs a scoffer gets dishonour for himself, And he who rebukes a wicked man gets insults for himself. 8 Do not correct a scoffer [who foolishly ridicules and takes no responsibility for his error] or he will hate you; Correct a wise man [who takes responsibility and learns from his error], and he will love you. 9 Give instruction to a wise man and he will become even wiser; Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.

If you’d like to hear more about this subject, click on the following link to take you to an in-depth message on this subject entitled PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY—God’s Perspective.

Personal Responsibility – God’s Perspective

 

A will to change

Last week was really busy for me. On Wednesday I took the ferry to the mainland to meet with my distributor. We needed to discuss our next step to find the right broadcaster for our HD documentary about the iconic B.C. painter E.J. Hughes and the art conservator Cheryle Harrison, who literally worked wonders to restore one of Hughes’ rare surviving murals that had been walled up and forgotten for 50 years. After that business was discussed we started talking about my next possible documentary project.

For weeks now my mind has been mulling over one of Canada’s most visible and serious social problems. This is a problem that has just gotten worse despite Municipal, Provincial, and Federal governments throwing BILLIONS of dollars yearly in failing attempts to lessen much less successfully solve this deadly social dysfunction that is spreading throughout Canada’s civic body. The city of Vancouver alone presently spends $360 million annually to deal with it. But the problem just refuses to go away and everybody knows and sees it. So why do our government bureaucracies continue with what is evidently a losing “game”? Why are they so intractable?

The problem, of course, that I’m thinking of tackling for our next documentary is: drug addiction, homelessness, and social marginalization. This is a depressing insidious mix if there ever was one. But in a perverse way this mix of social evils has become a real sustainable growth industry here in Canada. And it  has been employing increasing legions of police, social workers, and medical personnel. Why?

How effective can a government program be if it locks down the facility at night so no one can enter or leave, but during the day people can come and go as they please and on “Welfare Wednesday”, when the cheques are passed out, some of the project’s residents head for the streets and the waiting drug dealers? After a few days of totally wasting themselves they stumble back to the project for a place to sleep and food to eat while they wait for the next distribution of money from the government. Government sponsored city-centre harm-reduction programs like this have a very, very low “cure” rate. And even when they bother to keep statistics government finds that  only 5 to 15% of such clients ever break free from their addictions.

In contrast to such a faint hope, band-aid type of program there are functioning therapeutic communities. These mostly private programs have “cure” rates in the low to mid 70 percentile, meaning that about 75 of every 100 people who enter such  programs get a new life! A key difference between  harm reduction programs and therapeutic communities is the will to change. About 2,000 years ago Jesus of Nazareth taught this truth foundational to human change:

“There was a man who had two sons. the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you…” (Luke 15:11-18 NRSV).

Jesus’ teaching in the story up to that point was that change could not, and did not occur before the dissolute young man came to himself and found the will, the motivation to turn his life around. Then it was the turn of the caregiver, his father, to extend mercy and to help. To extend mercy without a motivation to change by the one being helped tends to merely perpetuate a destructive cycle.

It’s not just the addicted who need to change, so must the caregivers. They need to learn to practice  tough love when assisting people with severe problems. The goal should be to help them get a life rather than merely making them more comfortable while they not-so-slowly kill themselves with their dissolute, destructive habits.