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Monday, June 26, 2006

delawareonline | The News Journal | Rally planned in support of needle exchange
I have never understood the rationale behind needle exchange programs. "I'm intending to an illegal, immoral and harmful thing to myself. I think you, a law-abiding moral person should be drawn into my depravity by being forced to pay for some of my expense."

We're supposed to do this to reduce the spread of AIDS. But making it easier for people to have drug habits will just lead to more people with drug habits. People on dugs aren't known for coherent thought, so they will likely end up using an unsafe needle anyway.

We should be trying to help people get off drugs, not keep them addicted. I would support a needle-excahnge program where someone brought in a needle and in exchange, we put them into drug rehab. Anything else is just comdemning a person to remain in a living hell. That doesn't help them at all; getting them to kick the habit would.

Think of it this way. You're not going to get people off drugs by denying them needles. From a cost benefit analysis, would you rather pay for free needles or the long term care for AIDS patients (and an increasing number at that).

It's a purely pragmatic decision, not necessarily the best one.

But this is an issues that can't be subjected to a mere cost-benefit analysis. The goal isn't to deal with the probably with maximum economic efficiency, but rather to deal with the human problem. Often those two goals do intersect, but I don't think they do in this case.

The needle exchange proposal is also not delaing with the fundamental issue; it merely papers over it. The fundamental problem is not that people are using unsafe needles; it's that we have a significant number of people who are addicted to drugs. That's the problem; that's what we need to attack.

The problem with papering over an issue is that it can make an ultimate solution even harder to obtain. That's what this might accomplish; it might take our eyes of the prize of restoring these people's freedom by removing their enslavement to drugs.

I agree on a moral level. However, there are a certain number of people who are always going to be addicts. I'm not suggesting we write them off but we do need to keep them as safe as possible and prevent them from spreading disease as much as possible.

How about a program to educate users to use bleach to clean their needles?

I sincerely doubt that this sort of program is going to have any long-term impact on the spread of infectious blood-born disease. Ultimately needles are only clean once. Unless you plan to give the addicts a regular supply, you're not going to solve the problem.

Ideally we'd deal with this problem by not having addicts, but you can't unmake an addict against their will.

I haven't found a solution to this problem that I like. Giving away needles is ultimately enabling them. But the other solution is to stick them in a ghetto so they can't spread disease to the general population which is even less appealing to me.

Using these drugs is against the law. We can arrest thesepeople and either send them to rehab until they're sober or prison. But I fail to see how encouraging their habit is in any way helpful.

The problem with needle exchange programs is not just that they keep current users addicted, but by seeming to endorse such behavior, it may send signals that encourage others to try drugs and therefore increase addiction.

I agree with both of you. The program ultimately isn't a good idea but the real question is; Is it the least worst idea?

Do you really want to imprison people for an addiction? Do you have any doubt that they will relapse once they're out of rehab/prison?

A certain number of people are going to be addicts and I can't see a good solution for that. Decriminalization is worth trying at least.

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