Join Together Online recently reported on an article about lifting the ban on federally-funded needle exchanges. It reads:
“Federal money could be used to pay for needle-exchange programs under budget legislation approved this week by the U.S. House of Representatives, the Associated Press reported July 25.
The measure would lift a 21-year-old ban on funding needle exchanges, which research has shown to reduce the rate of HIV/AIDS and other diseases among injection-drug users. During the debate on the measure, the House voted 218-211 against an amendment by Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) that would have kept the prohibition intact.
Souder claimed that needle exchanges do not have a proven track record and that “providing needles acts as a way for drug users to sustain and support their intravenous drug use and does not address the primary illness of the drug addiction.’”
Yes, there is evidence to support that providing clean needles to IV drug users reduces the spread of HIV and other diseases, however, it’s kind of like putting extra padding around the cars of drunk drivers – they’re still going to crash sooner or later. We could even have “drunk driving lanes”, just like “safe injection houses” where we help them slowly kill themselves instead of rapidly doing it. Doesn’t that sound insane!?
Much of the harm reduction plan is centered around a defeatist approach, claiming addiction is a disease that can’t be stopped or prevented so we must try to limit the harm caused to society. While there may be a time and a place for some harm reduction tactics, taking a number of bullets out of the gun will only delay the inevitable if you keep pulling the trigger. The way to prevent the death and destruction is to rehabilitate the individual and empower former addicts to make the decision not to put the bullets in the gun in the first place. Addiction recovery programs need to adopt higher standards and drug rehab centers must be held more accountable for producing results before ever receiving government funding.