Most of this was written several months ago but it has been occupying my mind of late. With recent events I think it is time I get it out of my head. Perhaps it’s another step in helping myself (and others) in finding our way.
This post will probably not make me popular with some folks, but please read it all the way through. This has been very difficult and conflicting for me to write. And it is still is more of a rant than a fully structured blog post.
As has been reported in the media, the London and Middlesex Health Unit is looking to distribute crack pipes in two of its locations. This is similar to a program currently in place that distributes free needles to intravenous drug uses.
I have no objection to this plan as long as it’s is fully implemented including offering these drug users alternates and ways to kick the habit. Over the long-term this sort of program does save money in the health sector. However you will never get someone to quit until they are ready to quit.
Many people have spoken out against this program, including business owners and residents in areas where high drug use and homeless / mental health issues seem to be concentrated. I think these business owners and residents should not be dismissed as being NIMBY. Many of these business owners and residents care about and want to help people in these circumstances. But if they are out of business because no customers are coming in, or feel uncomfortable stepping out of their homes, what should they do? Do we allow someone to commit a crime or be anti social just because of their income or health?
Many will say the businesses and residents should suck it up and help change the system. Most people will agree the system has to change, but the complexity’s involved mean that it is going to take time. What can be done in the mean time?
There will always be a small percentage of people who do not want help and will be anti social. How does it helped the community if a business moves away because of this issue. We all have equal rights, but do we have blind spots in some areas?
We see similar things in terms of mental health. We all know the current mental health system has many problems and far too many people are not getting the care they need. This can also be tied to the state of homelessness in our country.
There is also a shift needed in health care for people on low and fixed income. These folks are often shocked to see drug users obtaining needles for free where they have to pay out-of-pocket for needles and supplies for valid health issues like diabetes. Not having the ability to afford such items ultimately drives up health care costs. These concerns need to be addressed as well.
Helping those who need the help the most should not just be restricted to the most at risk. How do we bring all these elements together? How do we draw a line that all can agree and live with? There are no simple answers and it’s going to take all of us to come up with it.