Playing with Heroin
Who knew heroin would soon be used to treat heroin addict patients. Heroin is one of the deadliest drugs that does tremendous harm to human health. The use of heroin has been increasing overwhelmingly over the years. One of the top cities in Canada, called Vancouver, has the largest drug trading port especially for heroin
drug. Heroin addiction has went gotten so out–off[of]-hand in Vancouver that people get high on the streets and [in the alleys] valleys. The result of this harmful addiction [has] had many negative effects such as infection, [and incidents of suicide] suicide incidence and crime in the city. In order to control these negative impacts of heroin addiction, [the] government had created the harm reduction program, which is also referred to as the safe needle exchange. The harm reduction program keeps addicts out of jail and emergency rooms; however, it fails to prevent heroin addiction, which kills addicts or at least makes them critically ill.
The harm reduction program is a new strategy planned by the government to limit the harms and risks associated with drug usage. There have been increased rates of HIV transmission, viral hepatitis, aids and death from the heroin overdose. The Harm reduction program has range of different services including the safe needle exchange, opioid replacement therapy, community mobilization and policy reform. Unlike other programs, the goal of this program isn’t to stop the use of heroin but rather to stop the spread of infection and diseases caused from it. It was began as a scientific research project to see whether the supervised injection site will reduce the harm associated with illicit drug use. A safe needle exchange service provides the drug addicts with clean needles, safe disposal of used needles and other available resources. Along with resources, the users also receive free advice and get access to treatment services. Through the drug policy reform service, offered under the harm reduction program, drug users get protection from police harassment and get access to justice. The community mobilization service allows the drug users to meet their peers and use the coffee room facility. The harm reduction program has many clinics called the Insite facility where drug users can get needle exchange. The Insite facility is a clean and safe environment where the users can inject their own drug under a supervision of clinical staff. The supervisor or clinical staff can also provide a first aid and wound care to the drug user.
In Vancouver, Canada most of the Insite facilities are served in poor neighborhood since poor people are more likely to use needles unsafely. The needle exchange programs or the Insite facilities are mostly located in private and secluded location. Some of the other countries that have Safe needle exchange program are United States, Ireland, United kingdom, western Australia and New Zealand. In the year 2003, down town east side of Vancouver in Canada was the first to open supervised injection facility in North America. One of the man who started the preposition to open this facility was Larry Campo. Larry campo ran for mayor in British Columbia to make his campaign of opening this facility a success. He did become mayor and got three years trial to run this program. Vancouver had about 12,000 injection drug users in which one third of the population lived in down town eastside. The down town east is considered to be the poorest neighborhood. The idea of creating this harm reduction program wasn’t even thought of by the government until the year 1980s. The rise of the HIV infection in the 1980s induced for needle exchange as a provision of clean injection equipments. During the year 1980, the first needle exchange took place in Amsterdam where the pharmacies sold syringes to heroin addicts. The syringe were sold in packs of five to the customers. About 2000 syringes were sold just in day. However it failed in doing any good to the community. Over the years, England went successful in opening safe needle exchange program in the year 1990. England held there international conference before the needle exchange program was started which caught attention of many people. The conference was such a success that it led to establishment of annual event in every major cities in the world. Many people got very interested to learn about the harm reduction model.
The Safe needle exchange program referred to as harm reduction is truly an blessing for many people of Vancouver. People of the Vancouver city were able to find a place where they can be welcomed and freely help themselves through sterile injection. Heroin is the type of drug that is really hard to get rid off. Studies have shown that the spread of HIV, AIDS and Hepatitis reduced significantly upon opening of these injection facilities. The sharing of the needle had also decreased. Almost over 70 % of the people hadn’t shared needle upon visiting of the clinic in just 30 days. Not only has the HIV and other chronic viral diseases had dropped but so had the rate of heroin overdose. People visiting the Insite facility are exposed to clean and sanitized environment with highly skilled medical practitioners around. The injection site has mirrors placed right in every column where drug user would sit. The mirror allows the supervisor to see every act of the drug user. A study done by Vancouver health in Canada has shown fatal overdoses decrease by 35% within 500 meters of the Insite facility. Many people in the past had hurt themselves by injecting the drug in wrong manner. Some of these people don’t have the skills of injecting a needle properly into their veins. However upon opening of these injection site it couldn’t be any easier. The ambulance doesn’t have to rescue overdosed people of the streets to the hospital that often. Imagine how much difference this program can make if it lasts even longer.
Another beneficial effect that takes place from the Harm reduction program is, it decreases crime and increases the employment rate. It may seem counterintuitive, but heroin helps the addicts in a way. A heroin addict can’t function mentally or physically without heroin. Through injection facility, addicts get very easy access to the tools and equipment that may be needed for the drug usage. This easy access of heroin injection allows them to live their life comfortably. If these injection sites didn’t exist, they would have been more likely to steal or rob someone to get money. And repeat the same thing over and over again. Not only does the Insite facility provide them with sterile equipment but it also aids in further assistance. The facility includes the relaxing room, social counseling, and treatment rooms. The addicts are easily able to speak and share their problem to someone working there. Through multiple visits, most of the clients are encouraged to get treatment to stop their addiction problem. Many of the staff members working there encourage them to sign up for treatment programs in which some did. These services offered through will keep the addicts of the street doing crazy things. And through correct advice and guidance it keeps their mind of crazy thoughts such as suicide.
Although Harm Reduction has many positive affects it seems to avoid the root of the problem which is the drug addiction. The studies and research on the Harm reduction have shown that it makes a difference in society, however it fails to stop the use of the drug heroin. Finding a solution to end this addiction is equally important as it is to stop the spread of a infection or diseases. Needle exchange program will only cause people to continue getting high over again. This program clearly gives wrong message to these stubborn drug addicts or either they will take it the wrong way. The safe needle exchange will encourage people to go out and get high especially when it is legal.This makes it seem like the government or the doctors had really gave up in finding a cure to stop these people’s addiction. Even though the harm reduction program mentions about helping people get enrolled into ta treatment plan, it was less effective. And people who do go into a treatment program, don’t stay there for long. They soon end up coming back to Insite facility to get high again. It is understood that the program helps in preventing harm from reaching out to the members of the society who are drug free. But what about the harm that is increasing upon the drug users. It isn’t normal for doctors or anyone else to just watch these addicts inject needles in to their blood stream. It isn’t ethical for doctors and health organization members to participate in heroin needle injection knowing the addicts life is on jeopardy. Being a doctor, a patients health should be the first priority.
Most of the people had made attending Insite facility as their regular routine. The program doesn’t consider the outcomes related to the number of deaths that occur from the long term use of heroin. Heroin has detrimental affects on an individual’s health which eventually leads them to death. Heroin users typically fall from twenty to thirty times higher risk of death. After all it is one of the deadliest drug on this planet. Two of the most common result of long term usage is the heart disease and liver failure. According to the studies published by the journal of neuroscience, frequent heroin injection desensitizes opioid receptors in our brain. The chemical property of heroin wears your brain receptors down which is essential for a person to function. Compared to sniffing and smoking heroin, injecting is the most detrimental to one’s health. As heroin rushes towards your brain nerves, it flips a switch in a region called basolateral amygdale which links to the feeling of high of a drug. This destroys your brains ability to form new memories and much more worse depending on how often you consume the drug. Some argue that atleast the use of the drug keeps addicts calm and comfortable physically however that isn’t the case. The drug seems to be doing much more damage to one’s body when it’s at rest. Insite facility may prevent infection but the possibility of having arthritis, tuberculosis. pneumonia and even worse coma won’t disappear. In the year 1999, about 2100 teens died from heroine addiction. The number of death in teens doubled to 3100 by 2010. If nothing is done to treat the addiction, more and more people will be dying.
The addiction may not have cure but it certainly can be treated. The addicts should be treated as psychology patient rather than a social problem. This would help many addicts be treated and learn that they must stay away from what they were addicted to rather than just avoiding it for a time being. One of the alternative approach is rehabilitation facility. One reason some addicts do not go to these rehab centers is that they cannot afford them. Many rehab centers require larger amounts of money than these addicts can afford, and some of these addicts are not covered by insurance. This problem can usually be seen in the poorer areas of towns and cities where everyone struggles to get by. So, how are these addicts supposed to be treated? They cannot be. They sometimes cannot pay out of pocket and will just go back to the situation they were in. Another reason some addicts choose not to go to rehab treatment, is not because of the cost, but because of the negative stigma attached to it. They fear from withdrawing symptoms of the drug.
Rehab allows the addict and their families to participate in group sessions that helps addict realize how much suffering they have caused their family and friends. They are able to see the damage the drug is causing in their lives and are able to confront their emotions through interventions. After the addict accepts themselves for who they are, then they can start having healthier relationships with others. Rehab has been proven to have positive effects on those suffering from addiction. Rehab introduces the addict to the 12-step program, which is a set of tools to help guide the addict in reclaiming their life. According to Jessica King, addicts tend to have trouble keeping in touch with loved ones because the only thing on their mind is the drug, not the people in their lives that should matter. Rehabilitation and intervention methods have been proven successful by the A&E reality-TV show Intervention. The show has a 71 percent success rate for getting people into rehab, meanwhile 130 of the 161 addicts that were on the show are sober today. Treatment centers tend to keep the addicts busy with group sessions and other activities, not only to keep their mind off of the drug but to remind them that other things can be fun. Treatment centers want to remind these people that there are other people just like them, that they are not alone, and that they can be themselves without judgment. Rehab gives people the support and encouragement they need to help move on from their addiction.
A Needle exchange allows bad behavior to continue and then rewards the addicts with more needles. Insite facility is gateway for many to meet other drug addicts and start networking. Most of them are involved in gangs and drug trading. This can lead to people getting access to more heroin and get themselves involved in various gang activities.
Why not just stop the root of the problem from occurring which is addiction. By stopping the addiction overall, the spread of disease and harm to addicts health can be stopped. Instead of the government spending $160,00 on the harm reduction, the funds can be used towards rahibitalition or other counseling services. The government should provide health insurance for uninsured people and increase funding in treating heroin addiction. Maybe if there is opportunities for drug treatment and counseling available to addicts, they can stop their drug intake. Since the Insite facility is funded by tax dollars, cuts can be placed to the program. There are many people who don’t support needle exchange and will pressurize government to limit or cut off funding. This will prevent the addicts from receiving different types of services throughout the program which would make it less effective. The harm reduction program is a never ending program in which the government will continuously need to fund money. The cycle of Insite facility will continue forever until a approach towards stopping the addiction isn’t done. The Insite facility is only a temporary approach to control community problem not a long term solution.
In conclusion, the harm reduction program achieves its goal of reducing Aids, Hiv, Heptatis C and many other infections caused from improper use of the intravenous drug. The safe needle exchange has kept community in control by keeping them away from crime and emergency room however it hides the root of the problem. The addicts will continue to stay addicted which would lead them to their death overtime. In the hopes of preventing the spread of diseases, they are not taking heroin addicts health in consideration. These Insite facility openly gives people wrong message and encourages them to get high whenever they want without any consequences. It is important to understand that a person health is just as important as it is to prevent the spread of diseases. There are many effective alternative that have proven to treat addiction in heroin users. The government should start funding in rehabitilation, social counseling and other treatment programs to stop the use of drug by addicts. The root of all the problem is addiction which causes people to use heroin. This can be looked upon as a first steps towards trying to solve the root of the problem. The faster the problem is understood the better it is.
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