Harm Reduction Sustains Drug Addiction

Most lay supporters of harm-reduction policy assume a gradual attempt is made to wean the addict off the substance of abuse. Proponents claim that harm reduction isn’t about “giving up” on the addict but is actually a temporary stepping stone towards the ultimate goal of recovery.

But the reality is different.

Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull, who established Ottawa’s managed alcohol program, offers a more sober portrayal of the goals of harm reduction. In a Fifth Estate documentary, he compares his program for those with chronic and severe addictions to palliative care. He agrees his facility is a place for alcoholics to “die with dignity” as opposed to dying on the streets. One resident featured in the episode had been using the program’s services for four years; he was only 24 when he first entered the managed alcohol program.

No doubt, the medical community is frustrated by the high failure rates associated with abstinence-based treatment programs but the criteria for determining when an addict now warrants a harm-reduction approach is unclear. Addiction does not follow a linear natural history akin to metastatic cancer; rather, there exists a variable trajectory and the possibility for recovery is always there.

However, Turnbull’s admission points to an uncomfortable belief underlying the harm-reduction philosophy — the view that some addicts are without hope of ever leading a full, productive life free of drug use.

It may be true that, for some, the best we can do is safe, controlled sedation. But the medical community and society should not be so quick to condemn many others to the compromised mental prison that is the life of the addict.

Share
  • FactsWillOut

    State funds, be it in the form of police forces or rehab centers should never be used to save folk from themselves.

    • Nermal

      I have no problem with alcohol taxes being used for rehab centres. It makes economic sense

  • FactsWillOut

    Anti-gun folk blame guns for deaths, instead of people.
    Anti-drug folk blame drugs for deaths, instead of people.

    Both ideas originate in the same foul authoritarian outlook.

  • reidjr

    Its really bad in Ottawa there are many who want help but there are no beds many are told its a 18 month wait.

    • FactsWillOut

      If someone wants to help, nobody is stopping them.
      Forcing the taxpayer to help is ludicrous.

      • reidjr

        But funding safe injection sites is a better use of money in your mind.

        • FactsWillOut

          Ahh, the famed act of putting words in others mouths, just like your standard leftist, despite the fact that I have already commented on such policies with my view in this very thread.

          Just get it over with and declare that I am literally Hitler.

          Allow me to quote my first comment on this thread:
          “State funds, be it in the form of police forces or rehab centers should never be used to save folk from themselves.”

          Well done.

          • reidjr

            That’s fine and I agree but the issue is many that od in Ottawa now are taking to the er taking up beds from people who really need it.

          • FactsWillOut

            I can see how that could be a problem, the solution to which is to let the folk who OD live or die without state interference, and call it “suicide” in the event of a death.
            If people want to help, let them expend their own resources to help.

          • ismiselemeas

            Most of the new ods are due to illegal fentanyl from China. The pills contain a form of elephant tranquilizer. The kids and adults taking these pills are not hard core addicts bent on destruction, they’re recreational drug users caught up in another Chinese scam.

          • FactsWillOut

            Caveat Emptor.

          • terrence22

            These deaths are simply examples of Darwin’s Theory in action.

          • FactsWillOut

            Yep.
            And the more we molly-coddle the idiots, the dumber society becomes.

          • Tooth&Claw

            And why would you trust anything that didn’t come from a licensed and approved pharmacy. You pay your money you take your chances any other way.

  • ismiselemeas

    Addiction has been mismanaged for decades. From the war on drugs to public injection sites. Decriminalize all drugs. Give free heroin to hard core addicts to reduce crime and ods. 10% of every population since time immemorial have been addicts. Psychiatric techniques and pharmacological therapy are making giant strides forward. We will never eliminate drug and alcohol addiction but it will become less and less of a problem.

    • FactsWillOut

      No need to provide free heroin, once it’s legalized, its easier to grow opium than pot, and entrepreneurs will start making cheap heroin.

    • reidjr

      The only way I support Decriminalize all drugs is those no longer can get any social programs.

      • FactsWillOut

        If they pay into EI, etc, then they are entitled to exactly what anyone else who pays into it gets.
        If you want to go that path, best to eliminate social programs altogether.

    • If people want to ruin themselves, they can ruin themselves with their own money.

  • Tooth&Claw

    What you pay for, you get more of. Big surprise there.