“What?? Legalize heroin?? Are you fucking kidding me”?? That’s what a woman yelled at me the other day.
She went on to say how much she hated her brother. How much he had devastated the family. How legalizing heroin would feed into the beast and make it easy for everyone to use heroin.
“Prescription heroin? Hell give everyone a prescription for heroin. Fuck you lady. The only thing he is a good candidate for is a wooden box and a hole six feet deep.”
It was heartbreaking to listen to her. Clearly she has been deeply hurt. That deep hurt has been turned to toxic anger. Sadly, she is not alone in her thinking.
In spite of all the research. In spite of all the medical professionals speaking out. In spite of reports from all first responders. In spite of all the collected data, the overdoses, the deaths. In spite of the undeniable proof that addiction is a brain disease, far too many people still have the “locked them up and throw away the key” mentality.
And that is a tragedy.
The evidence is there. Harm reduction is paramount is tackling this horrific medical issue. And what will reduce harm for one person suffering with addiction may well be different than what will reduce harm for another person suffering.
There is no “one size fits all” solution. Everyone suffering is unique and has to be treated as such. And we can do this.
This entire generation has been taught by parents, taught by educators, taught by law-enforcement “Do not use drugs”.
No one can say they have not had that message drilled into them from the time they could talk.
If someone says, “don’t touch the stove, you’ll get burned”, we don’t touch the stove. If someone says, “don’t jump off the bridge, you’ll break your legs”, we don’t jump off the bridge.
There are just some things that just make sense. We don’t have to touch the stove or jump off a bridge to know we will get hurt.
“Don’t use drugs, and you won’t ever have a drug problem”. Seems like common sense. Why risk it?
Think for a moment – how many times have you heard, “Don’t drink and drive”. “Don’t smoke, it can cause lung cancer”. “Slow down when the road is slippery”. “Don’t text when driving”. “Don’t share too much online”. “Don’t get into a car with a stranger or with anyone who has been drinking”.
And that is all good advice.
Yet every single day people don’t follow that advice. Cars filled with young guys race down the highway. People drive home after a couple glasses of wine. A girl shares too much online. A parent texts they’ll be a bit late getting home, traffic is moving slowly.
The thing is, we all know what we should and should not do. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure that out. But we take risks. And most of the time there isn’t huge repercussions. UNTIL THERE IS.
I believe people first try a potentially addictive substance, believing that they will not become a statistic, for one of two reasons. Curiosity or pain.
Curiosity because they wonder what the big deal is all about. A lot of people they know seem to be having fun. They want to see for themselves.
Secondly, people often try something, anything that will take away pain. It may well be physical pain. From an injury. A car accident. A fall. Often it is emotional pain. A feeling of deep rejection. Physical, emotional or sexual abuse in childhood. Abandonment.
There is always a reason.
For some, they can try an potentially addictive substance and walk away after. For another, they are caught in a trap they cannot seem to get free of.
And it is that person who is caught, that has the disease of addiction that becomes a prisoner to their addiction. When addiction raises it’s ugly head, our addicted loved one is no longer having fun. They are simply surviving in a world of pain and suffering. Merely surviving one day at a time.
And sadly, far too many don’t. We have a horrific health crisis going on and we have to start treating it with the same intensity we would treat another horrific health crisis.
A large increase in the number of detox and treatment beds is imperative. A place of safety is paramount. Methodose and Suboxon have to made easily available to everyone asking. And no one should have to go “pharmacy shopping” to find a pharmacy that dispenses Methodose. Or to try and find a doctor that will prescribe it. If you are a licensed pharmacy, if you are a licensed physician, this crucial, life saving drug should be available. No stigma attached.
For those people who have tried treatment, counselling, methodose, everything possible available to them and still they cannot stop the devastation of their disease, they should be prescribed medical heroin. This is not a complicated concept. It works for those who have not been able to grasp that lifeline.
The amount given is the amount necessary to keep the person suffering stable. STABLIZATION IS THE KEY. The amount given is not keeping the person sick. It is allowing them to stabilize and function. It allows them to know what they are getting will not kill them. It is clean and safe and given in a clinical setting.
These are not short term fixes.
I often hear from readers, Moms predominately, who are concerned because they don’t want their loved one on Methadose or Suboxon. The truth is, that medication is keeping their loved one well. It is keeping them stable and able to function. It may take time to get to the right dosage but that is no different than with any other disease. And they may need to remain on it for the rest of their lives.
Not to sound simplistic, because there is absolutely nothing simple about the disease of addiction, but think for a moment, if you take medication for high blood pressure, do you quit taking it because your blood pressure has come down? If you are a diabetic and your glucose levels come down, do you quit taking your insulin? If you are suffering from clinical depression, do you stop taking your anti-depressant because you begin to feel better?
No. You realize that the medication along with perhaps diet and exercise is able to stabilize your condition.
Methadose, Suboxon, prescription Heroin – they are those vital medications that can keep your addicted loved one stabilized, along with counseling and compassionate care that will allow them to live the life they deserve. That everyone deserves. These treatments can bring about changes so dramatic that families come back together. That overdoses stop happening on our streets and in our homes.
This crisis is not going away. Several Europeon countries have adopted the harm reduction approach that includes prescription heroin given in a clinical setting and the death rate from overdose due to toxic illegal drugs has dropped in some countries to near nil.
The Crosstown Clinic in Vancouver is proving that very thing with the limited group using their facility. Lives are being saved. People are feeling healthier and hopeful.
We have to stop the insanity of the “blame game”. The disease of addiction is literally stealing the lives of wonderful, kind and loving people every day. This madness must end. We must embrace harm reduction, in whatever forms work. It is going to take every social agency to come on board, healthcare, treatment options and facilities, the criminal justice system, housing, benefits that allow healthy diets.
Every time someone finds the help they need, all of society benefits. This truly is a disease “that takes a village”. Let’s be part of the solution, because if we are not part of the solution, we stay part of the problem.
Until next time – take care of yourself and know you are not alone. I truly care.