Pubdate: Fri, 15 Mar 2002
Source: Ithaca Journal, The (NY)
Copyright: 2002, The Ithaca Journal
Authors: Barry Schecter and Lyndon Smith
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)
Bookmark: (Methadone)


In the March 8 Journal, there was information of the plan to support
the needle exchange program. I applaud that decision. I would ask that
our community looks deeper into the problem of addiction. Needle
exchange will lessen disease transmission, but will it stop addiction?

According to statistical research presented to the National Institute
on Drug Abuse and National Institute of Health, the most effective
method to treat heroin-opiate intravenous drug use is methadone
maintenance combined with psychotherapy.

Persons that are prescribed methadone and remain abstinent do not need
needles because they don't use them. The percentage of IV drug users
that maintain abstinence from heroin without chemically assisted
treatment is very low. I am presently conducting a survey to determine
current needs in our community for this type of program.

If you or someone you know would benefit from a chemically assisted
(methadone) treatment program in Tompkins County area, please respond
to: P.O. Box 676 Candor, NY 13743

You may be new to this treatment, or currently involved in another
program. You may include your name and contact information if you
wish; it is not necessary at this time. You may also include the
distance you currently travel to meet your needs, or if your needs are
not currently being met.

All responses are confidential.

Barry Schecter,

Candor, March 8

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Your community has nothing to fear from the needle exchange. Here in
Sydney, we have had needle exchanges for years as well as pharmacies
selling needles and there has been no negative side effects.

On the contrary, needle exchanges have helped reduce the incidence of
HIV & Hepatitis C, thus saving the community a lot of money and
keeping addicts healthy until hopefully they are ready to stop using

We even have needle vending machines (three needles and a safe storage
pack for $2) in one of our main tourist areas and they cause no
problem whatsoever. Most people would not even know they were there,
but the people who need them know.

Opening a needle exchange does not mean condoning the use of drugs. We
have seat belts in cars to protect people, but that does not mean we
are condoning speeding or reckless driving. All a needle exchange
means is recognizing that people will use drugs (as the U.S. knows
only too well) regardless of whether needle exchanges are available
and that there is a strong public health interest in reducing the
incidence of disease through such measures.

Our rate of HIV & Hepatitis C in Australia is significantly lower than
in the U.S. because we have had needle exchanges for close to 15 years.

Those hard liners opposing such public health measures should be aware
that their son, daughter, grandchildren, etc. could well be having sex
with someone who is or was a drug user. It's not just drug users who
are protected by such preventative health measures as needle exchanges
- -- it's all of us.

Lyndon Smith,

Mosman, NSW, Australia, March 11
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