Heroin Harm Reduction

Do heroin harm reduction policies help create excuses for junkies?

Source UnknownKevin Thompson, 43, a participant in two Canadian clinical studies where patients were given doses of pharmaceutical heroin, says he was given three fixes a day at a downtown Vancouver clinic. The injections, Thompson told a Vancouver journalist, meant he could live free from worry about how and where to obtain his next dose. “It can be a lot of hassle just to get what you need for the day,” Thompson recalled.

As an addict, Thompson says he shoplifted, scrounged for money, and woke up in an anxious state, fearing withdrawal symptoms, for years. The cycle was finally broken when he applied and was approved for two Canadian studies that are part of Vancouver’s longstanding “harm reduction” public policy. The first, the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI), took place from 2005 to 2008. The Study to Assess Longer-term Opioid Medication Effectiveness (SALOME) was conducted in 2013. Both provided treatment in the form of diacetylmorphine – a.k.a. prescription heroin.

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“With a Needle in His Arm”

This week’s media drumbeat: “Found dead with a needle in his arm.”

It’s bad enough he died alone with the only disease on earth that convinces its host it’s not there.

ACEHalfway through the first full day of Philip Seymour Hoffman media coverage I knew that “with a needle in his arm” had entered our cultural zeitgeist. Ever since, it’s been a week of the phrase, over and over again.

Yes, we know why – it’s a lurid, gritty and vulgar journalistic standard, but this has hit such a level of capitalization, it’s almost as though it’s been sexualized, as if media outlets can’t cover Hoffman’s death without worming it in, right upfront.

As the week has progressed, in fact, I’ve been hearing ever more creative insertions and timing of the phrase in broadcast media. News readers both local and national threw it out there immediately at first, but now it’s hangin’ back by a sentence or two. By next week it’ll be a paragraph, but only because the story has turned toward the Somali Pirate Chechnya Warlord Taliban drug dealers who might’a sold a beloved fat white guy a truckload of smack.

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