09.15.2016
policy

Want a Heroin Prescription? Go to Canada

Harm reduction is the polite term for it.

On its own, heroin addiction is repulsive and arduous. Though glamorized by countless pop-culture antiheroes and battered heroines, the junkie life is a nonstop rat wheel of digging around in your depleted blood vessels until a plume of red pops up into the chamber of your syringe and being unable to squeeze out a shit for weeks on end. For the seasoned heroin addict, there really is no such thing as being high; there is only symptom abatement.

Add to that flowery scenario a criminalized stigma that drives many users away from several types of gainful employment that, counterintuitively, they are capable of performing and into scrounging crimes like petty theft, and the heroin life becomes an outright misery and burden to the addict, to everyone the addict knows, and to society at large—meaning you and me.

In recent decades, with cheap heroin infiltrating middle-class and affluent markets (what some readers might interpret as code for white people), a trend toward treatment rather than incarceration has been reported in the United States. Treatment facilities, generally profitable, are sometimes effective in breaking some addicts free from the drug’s grip.

Relapse rates are high, and some older, ingrained users seem to be immune to professional intervention. Consequently, American heroin addicts have long had their disease managed by substance substitution. Medical professionals have commonly transferred an addiction to heroin to an addiction to a far more-addictive, FDA-approved drug such as, for instance, methadone.

In drug-substitution therapy, addicts must be tested frequently and relentlessly to ensure they can be penalized for using their drug of choice on top of the prescribed substitute. Still, the number of methadone patients who continue to shoot heroin is incalculable.

The whole methadone-maintenance protocol raises the question, “Why not just give the plagued devil’s the heroin they crave in a controlled environment so less people get hurt?”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal government of Canada seems to have reached an obvious conclusion to that question.

From the Washington Post:

The latest decision means that any physician in Canada can now apply to Health Canada for access to diacetylmorphine, as pharmaceutical-grade heroin is known, under a special-access program. The government says that this kind of treatment will be available for only a small minority of users “in cases where traditional options have been tried and proven ineffective” and that it is important to give health-care providers a variety of tools to face the opioid-overdose crisis.

A lifetime of heroin-maintenance therapy is certainly not the preferred life outcome that any parent has for a child. It is probably almost never the preferred life outcome for any patient in a heroin-maintenance program. However, providing free and safe access to the drug that enslaves a person with a recognized chronic medical condition is quite arguably more humane and economically sound than pushing that person into a regimen of opportunistic crime, broken up by extended periods of state-sponsored institutional living.

Oh, Canada, be careful. Tell you border patrol to be on guard for swarms of sallow and callow young Americans desperate to emigrate

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