Pubdate: Fri, 06 May 2005
Source: Abbotsford Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 The Abbotsford Times
Author: Carol Gwilt and Don Briere
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)


The Editor:

Since the 1908 Opium Act in Canada, our government and police have been 
trying to eradicate drugs from our culture and there are now more drugs, 
more of a variety of drugs, and more desire by more people to use drugs 
than ever before.

We know after almost a century of trying, prohibition of drugs is 
dangerous, counterproductive and does not work.

Half a trillion dollars and a quarter million Canadians have been wasted in 
the last 40 years on efforts that do no more than destroy our families, 
friends, neighbours and economy and create victims and criminals out of 
decent people.

The plain fact that drugs are illegal costs the individual and society more 
than drug use itself. People with serious self-injurious dependencies are 
sick; just as sick as someone with cancer or AIDS and in fact, many do have 
cancer and AIDS as well.

They are so desperate they may steal from and beat people for money to buy 
drugs to ease their pain. Their lives revolve around their next fix because 
they need it, just like you and I need food.

If a person with a heroin addiction has access to clean, quality heroin 
without committing crimes to get it, everyone is safer.

What is wrong with giving it to them? Seriously.

If we don't, they will find a way to get it anyway. We know that.

Harm reduction models benefit the whole community by providing compassion 
and motivation for a person to gain autonomy and develop skills to make 
sound choices that contribute to society in a positive way.

I have spent quality time with people who have severe, debilitating drug 
problems and I can tell you there is still a person inside somebody's 
child, brother, mother or dad.

For me, there is no other way but to offer compassion and support and I am 
ashamed that we, as a democracy, are holding people in cages for being sick 
and closing down hospitals at the same time.

Carol Gwilt and Don Briere

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