The article in last Monday’s Cincinnati Enquirer read “Advocates push for syringe exchanges.”1 It described an advocacy group’s concern that an increase in intravenous heroin use by white males was leading to higher rates of HIV and hepatitis C. They were going to approach the Hamilton County health board with a request to set up a syringe exchange. Their request included a program “to offer clean heroin preparation materials, such as cotton and a small heating dish commonly referred to as a spoon or cap, as well as two applications – either nasal spray or an injection – that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose by restoring the victim’s breathing.”2
As much as we white males might appreciate a little recognition in our politically correct society, this is detrimental to everyone. Money is an important aspect of our lives, but we must not allow it to obscure the real issues. Just because “Naloxone kits cost about $40,” and “bought in bulk, syringes cost pennies” plus “the lifetime cost of treating a hepatitis C infection can run from $350,000 to $600,000” are not reasons to forget that the real problem is addiction.
“Used needles are frequently discarded by heroin users in public spaces…” was another reason given to create a needle-exchange program. While this might partially reduce innocent citizens from being exposed to danger, it is still a case of treating a symptom and not the “disease.” Citizens face greater overall risk from the crime that ensues from addicts’ needs. Next, we’ll be hearing about federal subsidies under the HHS mandate to lower the cost of heroin, and thus, reduce crime…
And that “187 municipalities across the United States have needle-exchange programs” (according to program advocates) isn’t jermaine to the argument either. “Everyone does it” didn’t work when we were teenagers and it doesn’t work in the adult world despite political rhetoric to the contrary.
Why do destructive or disordered behaviors tend to bring out the “enabler” in us as a society? Instead of facing a social problem squarely, we lean on “they can’t help the way they are wired” or “we’ll appear judgmental.” If we’re going to help fellow citizens improve their lives, let’s attack the root causes. In the end, it will lift them up and ultimately all of us.
1 – Cincinnati Enquirer, by Mark Curnutte with Terry DeMio contributing, 4/8/2013
2 – The use of the word “victim” is a clever euphemism. For example, if one drives a car too fast for the conditions and loses control of the vehicle, is the driver a “victim” of the laws of physics?