Heroin addiction is a medical condition, not a crime
For the last 16 months, with fentanyl ravaging street-drug users across the country, more than 100 users at Vancouver’s Crosstown Clinic have been quietly injecting prescription heroin. During that time, not one of the clinic’s patients has received heroin laced with fentanyl. Not one has overdosed. And not one has died.
This is all the more striking when you consider that Crosstown’s patients are among the most vulnerable of drug users. All are long-term heroin addicts, many have previously overdosed or suffered other serious complications associated with their drug use, and all have repeatedly tried and failed to get clean.
Or perhaps it isn’t that striking. This is, after all, what happens when you remove heroin from the street, with all its plagues and pestilence, and bring it into a medical environment. This is what happens when patients inject pharmaceutical-grade heroin under a physician’s supervision, while receiving full medical, psychological and social support. And this is what happens when you treat heroin addiction as a medical matter instead of a criminal one.
Peter McKnight writes
Angela White, St. Paul's Hospital Volunteer