"Alone, even doing nothing, you do not waste your time. You do, almost always, in company. No encounter with yourself can be altogether sterile: Something necessarily emerges, even if only the hope of some day meeting yourself again." (E.M. Cioran)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Drug Wars

I can't believe that the Kings Cross injecting centre is still the subject of debate. Recent surveys amongst local residents show that 75% are in favour of it. Local business support has grown from 58% in 2000 to 68% in 2005. An average 220 injecting episodes a day have been taken off the street and medically supervised - more than 300,000 over five years - and 5,380 referrals to drug treatment have been given out. Countless lives have been saved. Stumbling across discarded needles in public places is becoming a rarity, instead of commonplace. Kings Cross Police report a drop in crime rates and anti-social behaviour, which has allowed them to focus on drug dealing and the clinic is not government/taxpayer funded, but by confiscated proceeds of crime, including from drug dealing. In short, it is a success.

Yet still these wowsers babble on and on about how it encourages drug use (?), despite having absolutely no evidence. They just don't get it. People use drugs and always will, for a myriad of reasons, and will continue to gravitate to particular areas of big cities for this very reason - such as Kings Cross. And rather than leaving these people to shoot up in streets and alleys and then turning a blind eye, we owe it to ourselves - regular citizens and junkies alike - to take some responsibility for this reality. By having a medically supervised injecting room, we are taking responsibility, whilst also maintaining an element of control, so that everyone ultimately benefits. We can't simply pretend that people will just stop using drugs, or that they won't overdose, or that drugs and druggies will vanish. It's not good enough.

When debating the issue with a family member a few years ago, he told me he disagreed with the injecting centre, saying: "Anyone who sticks a needle in their arm deserves everything they get". Apparently, they deserve to overdose in the street and die, just because they're junkies. And this is what so many others think. Compassion doesn't even appear to be a consideration, yet surely there is a strong element of hypocrisy here. Everyone uses drugs of some sort - legally or illegally - and for many reasons. Are our hearts so hardened that we cannot care about people who aren't as well-adjusted as ourselves. And who the hell is so well-adjusted anyway?

To my thinking, the so-called 'War On Drugs' seems to me to be as pointless as the 'War On Terror'. This whole idea that you can just wipe out illicit drug use is completely misguided and an enormous waste of money that could be so much better spent on programmes that assist people, in whatever ways necessary, to address the problems that lead to their habits.

Again, just my opinion..

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