Wednesday 17 July 2019

Heroin use sites will not clean up the streets

There were mixed reports to this week's proposal by Minister Aodhán O Riordáin to set up heroin use centres in areas where public drug use is a problem.

There are valid arguments for and against such a move but I must admit the idea doesn't sit well with me.

I think facilitating drug taking in this manner won't do anything much for addicts except to enable their habit.

It also won't necessarily take the problem off the streets because not all drug users will seek to use the service either and will continue to inject in public places.

Initial opposition to the plan over problems that a stationary centre would create was challenged by the suggestion that the clinic could be mobile-much like the mobile blood pressure clinics, or libraries.

It would just park up and allow drug users to go inside, take their drugs and leave again. Only is this just wishful thinking? Can anyone see such a service running smoothly. While those with addiction problems need help they are not without their troubles and the management of such a service would be a huge undertaking logistically.

Whenever a new methadone clinic is proposed there is uproar and yet this is a medically managed system for helping people to get clean over a period of time.

To me there is a very big difference between a service that offers treatment and that simply facilitates drug abuse.

Many argue that users will continue to inject regardless and that it would be better for society in general and other members of the public if it was done in a more discreet setting, and one that is safer for the drug taker.

This is a valid point but at the same time would public funding be better spent on education and treatment, not to mention food and shelter as so many people in the grip of addiction are also homeless.

This plan would only work if the heroin users are offered the guarantee that they will not be under threat from prosecution once inside this clinic. Either drug abuse and possession are illegal or they are not. The law shouldn't change on this and the government shouldn't be making it comfortable and easy for people to destroy themselves while a blind eye is turned. This is such a complex matter and must be handled properly because once the floodgates are open there is no going back.