This bad idea has been floated in Portland at least two times before, in the mid-1970s and in about 1995.
Both prior proposals were fronted as medical intervention but come from a set of libertarian notions; that addiction is a lifestyle choice; that "we" can reduce the harm addicts cause by containing their environment; that treatment for addiction is religious or ineffective or expensive or unavailable; or that addicts must hit "rock bottom" prior to quitting. All nonsense.
Just in the past couple of weeks two other media organization have started on this story. Makes me think OPB listened to a persuasive individual who sold them a story.
The truth is Vancouver had a spike of access to heroin in the early 1980s caused by political troubles in Afghanistan and Mexico, coupled with a lack of willingness to understand addiction as a public health
issue by the BC government. Rather than providing evidence-based, outcome-driven treatment on demand, BC aped a Swiss pilot-project, and Insite, and others I think, were launched. The Swiss project ended after several addicts overdosed. The BC project limped along, often needing sympathetic political allies such as naive journalists to carry their message. Heroin addiction in BC increased - now tour guides take visitors to gawk at the decadence of dope fiends laying out on the street.
We'd oppose this idea for Portland.
When I drove by Hooper Detox yesterday morning there was a line out the door. I know from experience inside are twenty to thirty addicts ready to get clean. Most will be turned away. Funds are only available for only a few slots each day. Over a year the County turns away thousands of requests for help from dozens of clinics across the county. By turning away folks seeking treatment, we perpetuate addiction and all its ancillary ills.
Until we provide addiction treatment for those asking to quit, it's cynical and inhumane to enable sick addicts to stay sick and get sicker.
Mental Health Association of Portland
posted 3 years, 2 months ago
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