Not everyone thinks enabling addicts is helping them
The opiod epidemic facing America is seriously out of control. Doctors have been told for years that their irresponsible prescribing of powerful and highly-addictive painkillers is making people physically dependent on such substances, yet there has been little to dissuade them from dealing these drugs; one or two doctors may be arrested for contributing to the death of an addict each year. When an addict does get cut off by a doctor, they turn to drug dealers on the street looking for an easier, sometimes cheaper alternative to their pills, and they start using and abusing substances like heroin to get their fix.
Deaths attributed to opiods have skyrocketed in just the past few years; the worst aspect of the widespread addiction is that it has affected people of all races, ages, and classes. You may never even know that someone is an addict until they take that one lethal dose. And another problem coming from this huge uptick in heroin use is a rise in the number of new communicable disease cases; addicts sharing needles are infecting each other with deadly diseases like HIV and hepatitis-C.
One American city is fighting for the health of drug users by implementing a controversial public health program that will hopefully save their lives in the end.
Stopping the Rise
Not only is there an abundance of heroin-use in Las Vegas, there’s a rise in the number of HIV cases, and officials were trying to figure out how they were related.
The Southern Nevada Health District and Trac-B Needle Exchange in collaboration with the Nevada AIDS Research and Education Society found that 9% of blood-borne diseases come solely from the sharing of needles used to take illicit drugs intravenously.
In order to protect people from sharing needles with each other, the city decided to hand out clean needles to people in need. Chief Health Officer of the Southern Nevada Health District Dr. Joe Iser explained the idea, saying, “It starts with providing a clean needle and syringe to one person. However, we know one in 10 HIV diagnoses occur in people who inject drugs. Providing clean needles and supplies is a proven method for limiting disease transmission in a community.”
The city is not just doling out needles from a clinic, and this is possibly the most controversial aspect of the program. From three machines across the city, users will be able to receive a package including drug paraphernalia and safety devices that will allow them to shoot up their drugs and not be tempted to use a needle someone else had.
They can receive up to two kits a week. While some argue that giving drug addicts a better ability to use their narcotics is only enabling their addiction, health officials say that it will ultimately save lives…