Normalizing addiction leads to even more overdoses | American Institute of Enterprise


The city’s Department of Health’s subway ad campaign reassuring hard drug users that they can be “empowered” by “using safely” is not an isolated approach to the epidemic of overdose death. This is part of a larger “harm reduction” movement based on the idea that the combination of decriminalization or outright legalization will reduce the tragic number of overdose deaths in the United States – 100,000 the last year. The advertisements are part of the “safe injection sites” inaugurated by the de Blasio administration.

But as evidence begins to trickle in from the real world, this Pollyannaish view is worth questioning.

Consider what happened in Oregon, where in 2020 voters approved a ballot measure to decriminalize hard drugs — and at the same time establish drug treatment centers. Unconsidered was the possibility that legalizing heroin and fentanyl — subject to a $100 fine that could be reversed by simply calling a hotline for help — might actually encourage greater use.

Instead of reducing harm, OD deaths are increasing. During a hearing on the law, a state lawmaker from the Eagle’s Pass campaign reported a 700% increase in drug use and a 120% increase in overdose deaths. The Oregon Secretary of State told the hearing that “in many communities across Oregon, we have seen the problem of substance abuse grow.”

The harm reduction movement must accept common sense: acquiescence signals approval.

Proponents of decriminalization believe, as usual, that the problem is money. Spend more and we will see improvement! But what is happening so far should put this whole movement on notice: you are experiencing human lives and family lives being ruined by drug addicts. What do you think ?

Whether it’s safe injection sites in Harlem and Brooklyn or the decriminalization of cocaine and opioid possession in British Columbia (announced this week), advocates of the harm reduction approach must be prepared to accept evidence.

Accepting the use of hard drugs indicates that public health authorities believe they have no tools to reverse a public health crisis, that they are abandoning thousands of citizens or embracing the mistaken idea that one can be a productive addict.

Here’s another idea for the city’s health department: a subway campaign urging riders not to use drugs in the first place. Overbearing “just say no” admonitions may not be the right approach, but in a city filled with the world’s most creative advertising agencies, we shouldn’t rule out a campaign that could change lives and change habits.

It is indeed ironic that we see no such public health campaign even as the state continues to broadcast graphic depictions of terminal lung cancer and the regrets of its victims for taking up smoking. A similar anti-drug campaign could include grief-stricken parents who have lost children to overdoses – and seen their potential stifled.

The government sends signals about what is acceptable. From drug decriminalization laws to the “Use it Safely” campaign, the government is sending the wrong signal.


About Author

Comments are closed.