For years harm-reduction has been the Government’s go-to method of treating addiction. Well I say treating, but let’s be honest, all it is really doing is making addiction more socially acceptable. If an addict is not breaking into people’s homes to fund their heroin addiction because they have a script for methadone then this is progress, right? Well yes, to a certain extent, reducing crime rates is important, as is giving the addicted person the opportunity to turn their life round. The problem is, methadone is just as, if not more, addictive than heroin and so what you end up with is an individual who is dependent on the state-funded substance.
Unfortunately, addicts are not well-known for their motivation – it is one of the first things addiction will claim, followed by self-esteem, self-respect, loyalty, honesty etc. But I digress. Motivation is often a problem, and I will often hear from individuals who have not made it to the pharmacy in time. Uh oh. This can mean a long weekend ahead where the individual does not have access to methadone. So what are they going to do? Well some will go through withdrawal until the pharmacy will re-open, some will buy methadone on the black market, and others will top up with heroin in the meantime. The fact is, this person is still dependent on a substance that may not always be accessible to them.
The Government’s focus in adopting harm-reduction measures is to keep people alive and out of prison. Not a bad goal, but in order to be alive, should the person not be able to experience some quality of life? Because without this quality of life, what is the point? What is it all for? This is not recovery, this is a harm-reduction induced limbo. The key to really reducing harm is to give these people a shot at achieving real recovery, through medicated detox and a therapeutic programme of recovery. Only then will they be able to start living a life free from dependency.
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