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Heroin Injection Sites Perpetuate Harm

John P. Walters

There are no “safe heroin injection sites.” The only “safe” approach to heroin is not to take it. For addicts, the humane public health response is to help them get and stay sober, or at the very least, opioid replacement therapy in sustained treatment. Any approach without these goals is cruel and dehumanizing — not healing, but perpetuating harm.

Addiction is a treatable disease. Millions of Americans are in recovery — living healthy, productive lives. Supporting addicts’ heroin use maintains their disease, administering the poison that causes their illness and diminishes their lives. A government-approved place for unlimited heroin injection creates the conditions for never-ending addiction and gives government a drug dealer’s power over the addicted.

Advocates for injection sites claim various “successes.” In fact, very few who use these facilities are persuaded to enter treatment and reach recovery. Many addicts using such facilities do not stop using heroin and other such drugs from criminal sources — the “safe facility” is simply another place for drugs. Addicts are often abusers of multiple drugs and alcohol. Injection facilities sustain all of this.

Such proposals require us to suppress common sense and adopt heartless indifference to the lives of the addicted. We do not protect addicts by reviving them from overdose death only to return them to death’s front door, perpetuating the self-destructive cycle of addiction. In fact, many addicts enter treatment because they cannot obtain heroin, and even more are treated under the supervision of drug courts. We treat the addicted through workplace interventions, medical practice and many faith-based organizations. We should keep vigil as they struggle to recover.

Today’s heroin deaths are caused by the drug flooding into America from Mexico. Giving up on fighting heroin trafficking brought a supply-driven epidemic to our communities. Pressure on heroin networks works, just as attacks on terror networks can and must be pressed for our security.

Heroin destroys freedom and life. Government-approved injection centers are shameful.

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