Pubdate: Sun, 07 Mar 2010
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2010 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Kirk Tousaw


Re: "Insite doesn't do enough to change addicts," Susan Martinuk, 
Opinion, March 5.
Susan Martinuk seems to think the point of harm reduction strategies 
like Insite is to
"change addicts" into, presumably, non-addicts. She misses the point 
entirely and,
again, posits a false choice between harm reduction and treatment.

Insite is there to save lives and prevent the spread of disease. It
achieves those goals remarkably well. As a tangential benefit, but not
a goal, it also provides addicts with contact with social services,
including treatment options. It does that remarkably well, also.

It achieves all these social benefits without using any federal
taxpayer dollars, contrary to Martinuk's false statement that "we" are
spending millions on the facility. Perhaps an analogy will assist her
in understanding what Insite is really about. When a patient calls 911
in the throes of a heart attack brought about by unhealthy diet, we
rush him to the hospital and focus on keeping him alive. During his
recovery, we might provide him with information about healthier
dietary options and refer him to a nutritionist. We don't force-feed
him healthy food and if he continues to eat bad foods, we don't blame
the hospital that saved his life for failing to change his behaviour.
Nor do we suggest shutting down the hospital to spend more money on
better nutritionists.

Kirk Tousaw, Vancouver

Kirk Tousaw is executive director of the Beyond Prohibition Foundation
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