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Is a good druggie a dead druggie?

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By Valdoe

It was reported that in 1999 over 9 million needles were distributed free in Australia to drug addicts.

This startling fact brings up some important questions. I'd like to address first a basic problem I have when government seems to cater to drug addicts while ignoring the plight of their law-abiding citizens.

Let's look at two groups of Australians. The needles are provided free to drug addicts yet diabetics have to pay for their needles to take insulin. The needles used by diabetics provide a life saving drug to improve the quality of their lives. A direct contrast is the drug user whose use of the free needles prolongs their dependence, lessens their quality of life and leads eventually to the death of the user.

Being a drug addict is a choice

If you never take that first illegal drug, you will never become an addict. It's not an accident. It's something you decide to do or not do. The needle exchange program is not designed to stop the drug addict from using. It's designed to minimize harm caused by their using drugs.

Becoming a diabetic happens through no fault of the diabetic. It's not a choice. Diabetics can get discounted needles through a government program, but they still have to pay the majority of the cost themselves. If you break the law, and use illegal drugs, you'll get your needles free. Does this make sense?

180,000 missing needles

With 9 million needles exchanged, why were so many needles not accounted for? It is estimated that between 2 and 10% have not been turned back in for exchange. That means we don't know what happened to at least 180,000 needles we gave to drug addicts. Should you and I be worried?

Our beaches are not safe

A father and his son's simple trip to the beach was anything but happy. Since the father knew the dangers of walking bare foot on our beaches, he made it a practice to wear shoes. The two enjoyed their swim and on coming out they sat down to put on their shoes. To the father's horror, the son sat on a discarded needle that was left behind by a drug addict. Only two weeks earlier during an Australian Iron Man competition, a competitor stepped on a discarded needle again on an Australian beach.

Two innocent people must now live with the fear and anguish for the next few months that they may have contracted Aids. And if their tests prove positive, their lives will be forever changed all through no fault of their own.

What is the government and health authorities doing about this problem? Doesn't the meaning "exchange" mean that you only hand out a needle if you get one in exchange? 180,000 missing needles is no small number.

We're left with a lot of questions

Is the exchange program effectively keeping needles off our streets, playgrounds, parks and beaches? Are government's limited resources being spent wisely when our country has so many needs? Do we protect the drug addict at the risk of our law-abiding citizens?

As the frustration level has risen over the drug problem, some Australians have said the only good druggie is a dead druggie. Others point to the drug addict's weakness or family history and say we need to do everything we can to help them no matter the cost. How do you feel? What do you think should be done?

More information

  1. Study Raises Questions on Effectiveness of Needle Exchange Programs
  2. Sydney Morning Herald: DPP attacks closure of needle exchange
  3. Killing Them Softly
  4. New Zealand Needle Exchange Programme
  5. Clinton Administration's Internal Review of Research on Needle Exchang Programs
  6. The Illogic of Needle Exchange

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