Jul 18 2008

CityView: Harm Reduction Policy for Downtown Eastside A Little Too Enlightened

Published by at 7:43 pm under Uncategorized

When even the Europeans think we’ve gone too far, it may be time to rethink Vancouver’s harm reduction approach in the downtown eastside. In this week’s Globe and Mail, in “Europe’s approach to drugs is more enlightened … it’s tougher”:

Advocates of harm-reduction measures, such as needle exchanges, methadone programs and Vancouver’s supervised-injection site, often point to Europe’s more enlightened approach to drugs as proof of how far behind we are in Canada. But parts of Europe are having second thoughts. Socially progressive Sweden had a brief but disastrous fling with prescription heroin back in the 1960s. After that, it embraced the hard-line approach. Today its policy is to make drugs very difficult to get, but treatment very easy – and sometimes compulsory…

Meanwhile, in another part of Europe:

Two months ago, the Scottish government announced a change in direction. From now on its primary focus will be on “recovery,” not just harm reduction. “Harm reduction ideas have failed in Scotland,” says Prof. McKeganey. “They have failed to protect injectors from hepatitis C, failed to reduce the scale of the drug problem, failed to reduce many of the harms inflicted on others.”

Hmmm. Sounds familiar. So much for the ambitious ideals of Project Civil City.

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