Pubdate: Wed, 07 Sep 2005
Source: Brandon Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2005, Brandon Sun
Author: Stephen Heath
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Hepatitis)


As a recovered abuser of both crack and powder cocaine (clean 11 years 
now), I would like to echo the compassionate and honest observations of 
letter writer Heather Sharpe who penned Addicts Need Help (Aug. 30).

Based on my experience working with drug abusers in treatment and recovery 
settings, I would humbly rebut any suggestion that harm reduction programs 
are "enabling and/or encouraging drug use."

Every injection drug user and cocaine addict I've ever met was not 
interested in perpetual use. They are all seeking a viable way to get clean 
from the destructive cycle of use. However, each person has his/her own 
time lag to quit. For some, that can come quickly, while for others it may 
take several months and up to years.

But make no mistake, every user will eventually stop because perpetual use 
of injection drugs and/or cocaine is almost impossible physically. 
Therefore, while patiently working with those abusers trying to quit, we 
benefit as a community if we reduce the peripheral and associated disease 
that can be unwittingly passed by dirty or disease-infected needles.

It's possible to overcome a drug addiction. It's of course impossible to 
overcome a case of HIV or a case of hepatitis C that can be generated by 
use of dirty needles.

Have mercy on the abuser. He was once clean like you. And he can be that 
way again, provided he lives long enough.


Public relations director, Drug Policy Forum of Florida

Clearwater, Fla. 
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