2006-06-05

Common Sense Continental drug ingenuity

Back in the 1920s, Americans saw alcohol as so damaging that they outlawed it. The era of prohibition was perhaps the greatest failure in history of trying to stop something just by banning it.

Hard drugs, like Heroin, are illegal to sell and illegal to use. The illicit drug trade costs our society millions of dollars in insurance costs associated with crime, not to mention overcrowded gaols and deaths by overdoses.

Germany has put a heroin trial in place. The idea is that a whole bunch of heroin addicts are given daily injections of clean heroin - diamorphine - in registered clinics (supervised by medical professionals) rather than buying the stuff themselves from "the street" and injecting it themselves.

A similar scheme has been running in Switzerland for ten years.

The result? Less crime, falling rates of addiction and almost no overdoses.

Are we going to try it out? Oh no. If we do that the bogeyman might get us. That and the fact that scientists have proven beyond doubt that Europe completely sucks.

4 comments:

Ali said...

Hi Neil

Were you aware of a similar trial in Sydney in 2001?

http://society.guardian.co.uk/drugsandalcohol/story/0,,487508,00.html

Don't know what came of it.

One Salient Oversight said...

Yeah I remember that trial. It was very vigorously opposed by right-wing politicians and charity agencies that should have known better (ie Salvation Army). It became a massive political football. I don't know what "became" of it but it was nowhere near the scale of what is going on in Germany and Switzerland.

The problem was, as far as I can remember, is that those who opposed it basically were saying "They're trying to legalise heroin!" which, of course, gave the public all sorts of false ideas of a massive spread of heroin addiction and all the problems of overdoses and dirty needles and kids playgrounds and so on.

Yet the results from these overseas trials are in and they indicate that giving addicts their drug of choice in a clean, safe environment actually decreases their dependence upon the drug, as well as decreasing crime and all the health problems. It would also bankrupt the drug dealers.

But, as the last stanza of my article shows, because it is from Europe, white anglos will dismiss it because "nothing good ever comes from there". Eurobashing is pure racism in my book.

Ali said...

"Came"/"Became"...I'm an advocate of a living, growing English language.

The whole idea of providing "heroin clinics" is a break from received wisdom. I must admit, Europe or no, I don't immediately warm to the idea. In fact, when I heard about the Australian trial, where people (Christians) said similar things to what you are saying, I still had reservations. So, I don't think my concerns are borne out of anti-European sentiment.

One question I would ask is, "Why does this programme reduce dependence?" Is it because it takes rebellion out of the habit? I think of the legalisation of prostitution, of homosexuality, societal acceptance of casual sex. Do these have a parallel here? I would guess you'd say no, because none of those things decreased the occurance of those activities.

I think there's always a fine line between removing reasons for rebellion and, on the other hand, total prohibition. To a large degree the gospel walks that line - there is no lowering of God's standards - He totally prohibits sin, and yet through Jesus He provides grace, forgiveness, acceptance and the power to want to change and to change.

My concern is that these "heroin clinics" don't walk that line. (But then, neither do convential methods of dealing with the problem).

One Salient Oversight said...

One of the issues here is whether drug-dependence is a good thing. Even those who advocate legalisation and control (like myself) see addiction as a bad thing.

Rather than comparing drug addiction to sins like homosexuality or casual sex, it is probably better to compare it to gluttony. the last time I looked, gluttony was still a sin but was not something that Christians tend to want legislation against.

To me, the whole legalisation/control process is not about accepting sin, but accepting sickness. Cancer is a terrible thing to have but we don't express our distaste for cancer by making it illegal, and nor are we "pro-cancer" if we don't support its illegality.

The examples of heroin legalisation and control we see in Germany and Switzerland have led to lower rates of addiction overall. What more needs to be said?