Tuesday, July 15, 2008

But what's it got to do with a new track from Chad VanGaalen?

Margaret Wente should know better.

In her first of four columns on (or against) Harm Reduction for the Globe & Mail, she seems to place all the responsibility of Vancouver's out of control drug problem at InSite's doorstep. Never mind that the Supervised Injection Site was never intended to solve addiction, let alone heal an afflicted city. Even the experts Wente so enthusiastically quotes don't seem to support her conclusions as boisterously as she purports them.
"Safe injection is a misnomer," says Milan Khara, another veteran addictions doctor. "Insite is a supervised injection site. Injections inevitably lead to medical complications."

That's just a factual statement, not a value judgment. Though Wente presents it as damning evidence against harm reduction. Wente cites anecdotal evidence, quotes "experts" of questionable authority, such as the police officer--one that Wente claims to have witnessed reaching into a woman's bra to seize a crackpipe--who's assessment of InSite is a snorty, "It's like saying, 'Hey man, you're really high. Want some treatment? Here's some more drugs!' "

For the record, which Wente shows no interest in mentioning, InSite has never provided drugs to its participants.
Despite her best efforts, Wente does actually hit on what actually matters in regards to harm reduction: "Harm reduction without a treatment component is a failed policy," addictions doctor Stan de Vlaming tells her.
Harm Reduction is just one of "four pillars" of Vancouver's drug policy, along with Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement. The idea of four pillars is that each complements and supports the others, like legs on a table. You take one leg away, the table starts to wobble.

Adam Radwanski, one of Wente's Globe colleagues, can smell what's cooking.

mp3: "Willow Tree" by Chad VanGaalen
mp3: "Thing (Summer in 6/4 Time)" by The Cape May

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