5/30/2008

Judge Must be "On Crack"

I recently received an email commenting on the decision handed down by British Columbia Supreme Court judge Mr. Justice Pitfield three days ago. Justice Pitfield decided that to deny addicts the use of the safe-injection site Insite contravenes section 7 of the Charter which provides for "the right to life, liberty and security of persons."
Admittedly, I have not been paying close enough attention to the news as of late. Sure that this must be some sort of error, I did some looking around and sure enough, it wasn't an error.
You wonder what this judge was thinking... or if he even was thinking. How does providing a legal crackhouse reduce harm? How does forcing it to close violate the "rights" of addicts to life, liberty and security of person?
Drugs kill, Mr. Justice. Or didn't you know that? You would think that the fact a doctor with strong views against the site was harassed by druggie protesters would have had some impact on the judges decision.
The government rightly disagrees with the ruling and is seeking an appeal. Media coverage , on the other hand, is typically nauseating. (Careful, Gloria, your bias is is showing.)

In what might seem like a non sequitor, I feel the need to point out that I have been reading Martin Luther's Bondage of the Will. I read a portion last night which seems ironically appropriate.
Wherefore, it is no wonder in divine things, that through so many ages, men renowned for talent remained blind. It might have been a wonder in human things, but in divine things, it would rather have been a wonder if there had been one here and there that did not remain blind: that they all remained utterly blind alike, is no wonder at all. For what is the whole human race together, without the Spirit, but the kingdom of the devil (as I have said) and a confused chaos of darkness? And therefore it is, that Paul, (Ephes. vi. 12,) calls the devils, "the rulers of this darkness." And, (1 Cor. ii. 8,) he saith, that none of the princes of this world knew the wisdom of God. What then must he think of the rest, who asserts that the princes of this world are the slaves of darkness? For by princes, he means those greatest and highest ones, whom you call 'men renowned for talent.' And why were all the Arians blind? Were there not among them men renowned for talent? Why was Christ foolishness to the nations? Are there not among the nations men renowned for talent? "God (saith Paul) knoweth the thoughts of the wise that they are vain," (1 Cor. iii. 20.) He chose not to say "of men," as the text to which he refers has it, but would point to the first and greatest among men, that from them we might form a judgment of the rest.


And does not Justice Pitfield, and his lamentable decision, so accurately represent what is wrong with Canadian society? Judges are often considered among the first and best of our country, and yet how utterly blind is this man to the potential effects of his decision? As any former drug addict, or family member of a former addict can tell you, giving people a place to "safely" do their drugs does not help them move away from their addiction. Detoxification, abstinence and counseling is the only solution. One wonders how many addicts this judge has actually known. Furthermore, one wonders how exactly a judge can come up with a ruling that permits illegal behaviour.
It's a sad day for Canada.
Not only does this ruling show our society doesn't care to help our addicts, we prefer they remain addicts.
It's their "right" to be addicted and our "right" not to give a rat.

20 comments:

KC said...

"As any former drug addict, or family member of a former addict can tell you, giving people a place to "safely" do their drugs does not help them move away from their addiction."

So you think that the fear of overdose or acquiring hepititis and HIV are important tools in getting people off drugs? Cold.

Ruth said...

No.
I think that drugs and safety are at odds with each other. There is no proof that a "safe" injection site lowers addiction rates. If anything, the opposite is true. Granted, addicts will be using clean needles. But they certainly will NOT be at a lower risk for overdose, and if you think they will be, you are naive in the extreme.
"Safe" injection sites are anything but safe. They are feeding addicts more of what they want: drugs.

Anonymous said...

What do you expect in a country that promotes based on minority status, race, color, political leanings,language and religion, rather than merit?

This is no country, it's a shearing house for sheep and a safe house for lunitics!

kursk said...

What is cold, KC ,is being an enabler by providing the apperatus and space to furthur propogate the misery of drug addiction.

Illegal street Drugs are destructive and a bane to mankind, and coddling the afflicted will not make the problem go away.It only furthur encourages the addict to remain a victim, which is really the goal of this offshoot of the homeless industry.

Mr Ed said...

I wanna know when the gov't is going to address "Gambling addiction" with free money and "Alchohal Addiction" with free booze so I can get hooked on both...

What really needs to happen with any addiction is it needs to be cut off ... cold turkey or otherwise... the individuals need to be provided a better way of life... A "safe injection site" doesn't cure them...it's just a feel good bandaid on the problem and doesn't address the real issue at all... but the lefty's feel good about themselves and the media share in it...

How's this for a crazy solution... take the 30.5 million Vancouver City counsil approved for the new dog shelter and spend it on rehab for those downtown who actually want it...

Then the provincial gov't reopen the care facility in coquitlam that the NDP shut down to deal with the mentally disabled walking around homeless in the East sides needle park and alike in downtown Vancouver...
(The NDP turned the majority of these unfortunate's loose from the mental facility really creating the majority of the homeless and drug addicts to begin with...but the media has a short term memory on those little details)

Those who populate the homeless shelters in downtown Vancouver today are unfortunately surrounded by drug addicts and get sucked into drug addictions themselves because they simply have nothing to look forward to in life or feel helpless and hopeless... a sfe injection site doesn't address the problem...it may cut down on deaths by OD, HIV, and HepA/B/C but it doesn't reduce crime, cure addiction, or prevent much else

KC said...

Ruth - The facts:
- The safe injection site puts addicts in touch with the public health and support officials to get them into treatment if they want it.

- The safe injection site ensures that those addicts who use it will not be discarding their needles on the street where I will step on them.

- The safe injection site is supervised so IF an addict overdoses they will have access to the immediate medical attention that they would not receive in an alley or a sleazy hotel room.

Conservative opposition to this centre has everything to do with ideology and nothing to do with science. Its conservatives continuing with the discredited mantra that being tough on drug addicts will somehow solve the problem. Pretty well every group that ACTUALLY has a stake in the project on a day to day basis--local businesses, the Vancouver Police, the City, the Provincial government, the local health authority--support it. The overwhelming majority of studies conducted on the project confirms its success. Should we have safe injection sites in every city? Of course not. It is a partial solution to a difficult problem tailored to a particular location where there is an epidemic of drug addiction that enforcement, treatment and prevention have all failed to fix.

Kursk - "Enabler" my eye. You really think that the lack of a safe injection site is going to get people off drugs? You really think that drug addicts--as "miserable" as you say they are--are going to be more inclined to stay on drugs because there is a safe injection site? All the safe injection site does is make sure they stay alive until they have the physical and emotional will to beat their habits. Only rigid conservative ideologues believe that addicts are better off dead from overdose or disease or in jail than alive and struggling on a day to day basis to kick their addiction. Treatment only works when the person recieving it is willing to be helped.

I should add that most people arent asking the feds to pay for this program; and contrary to popular believe that is not what this judge ordered them to do. The provincial government which completely supports the project does. All that the Conservatives in Ottawa are being asked to do is not sick the cops on the centre's staff. Isnt a "conservative" value to let provinces and local authorities--ie the people closes to the problem--make important decisions?

KC said...

Mr. Ed - "it may cut down on deaths by OD, HIV, and HepA/B/C but it doesnt reduce crime, cure addition, or prevent much else".

I'll let you take another look at your statement and let you think about your priority. Here all this time I thought preventing death was a goal of government policy. At least the "lefty's" (Gordon Campbell is left wing? The Vancouver police are left wing?) are trying to save life rather than the "rightys" who just want to stamp their feet and keep plugging away at the same failed and discredited policies.

Nothing that has been done, or is being proposed by anyone (including the federal Conservatives) is going to "reduce crime, [or] cure addiction" (certainly not with 30.5 million).

Ruth said...

KC says: "Conservative opposition to this centre has everything to do with ideology and nothing to do with science."

Whatever pal!
Could you be anymore hypocritical, crying "ideology" when all you are spouting is ideological CRAP that is in no way at all based on FACT!
There is no scientific basis to the notion that Insite is actually reducing harm. They aren't. People are not getting clean... which is what harm reduction would actually involve! They just aren't getting AIDS or hepatitis. This is not harm reduction. This is a bandaid.
Let me use small words so you can understand:
Drugs kill people.
Drug addicts have to get clean or their addiction WILL kill them.

"The overwhelming majority of studies conducted on the project confirms its success."

Please provide said studies. I'd like to see ALL of them, from BOTH sides of the issue and we can compare and see if what you say is actually true. Be sure to include the doctor who has specialized in addiction medicine for 18 years and who was harassed by druggies on his way to testify.

You say:
"You really think that the lack of a safe injection site is going to get people off drugs?"

That's not the argument we are making. We are all arguing that safe injection sites will kep them in their habit.

"You really think that drug addicts--as "miserable" as you say they are"

Let me stop you right here. If you don't think addicts are genuinely miserable people, then you don't know any. I have. I can assure you, no addict loves what they are doing to themselves. They all want to stop, but can't on their own.

"--are going to be more inclined to stay on drugs because there is a safe injection site?"

Yes!!!
Unquestionably, yes!!

"All the safe injection site does is make sure they stay alive until they have the physical and emotional will to beat their habits"

This almost never happens. Addicts frequently do not have the will to get clean and have to be forced into treatment. THis is done by people who love them enough to save their lives.

"Only rigid conservative ideologues believe that addicts are better off dead from overdose or disease or in jail "

Not one person here has said anything even remotely like this. Of you want to engage in civil conversation, fine, but cut your lying BS.

KC said...

Ruth

- No one said that it would eliminate harm. Thats why its called harm REDUCTION. The risk of HIV, Hepititis and overdose all significantly increase the harm of drug use. Insite reduces that.

- Drugs do not necessarily kill people--particularly heroin. The greatest dangers to the addicts life are overdose and the risk of spreading disease. That doesnt mean that an addict would have a great life absent those things, but it will be much better and probably longer.

- I am not going to go out and provide all the studies for you because the Conservative government has all those studies and still refuses to heed their wisdom. The overwhelming majority of those who are direct stakeholders in the site are in support of it. Only our "drug warrior" federal goverment and ideological conservatives are against it. This is the same argument tactic that Kate at SDA uses--get them bogged down in the minute scientific details that none of us have the depth of scientific knowledge to appreciate and muddy the water enough for a draw despite the overwhelming consensus in the community with actual specialized knowledge on the subject. The facts are that all 22 peer-reviewed studies of Insite have reached positive conclusions about its efficacy. You can try to obfuscate those facts all you want by talking about one doctor who was hassled by drug users, but the science is quite clearly behind this project.

- If addiction is as "miserable" as you think it is no one is going to stay on the drugs just because there is a site one can go to to inject them. Im not saying that drug addiction isnt "miserable". It most certainly usually is. Which is why I am comfortable with insite because I think drug addicts have enough incentive to kick their habits without having the danger or disease and overdose staring them down. Unlike you however I'd like them to stay alive long enough to do so.

- Forced treatment doesnt work and is an affront to the autonomy of the individual. No one will kick drugs until they are ready to do so. You force someone into treatment and they will relapse.

- You dont have to say it but by opposing the safe injection site you are implying that "addicts are better off dead from overdose or disease or in jail" than on drugs. Otherwise you would support the safe injection site to keep them alive.

Ruth said...

KC:
You say
"Drugs do not necessarily kill people" and in less than the next breath you also say "The greatest dangers to the addicts life are overdose..."

It can't be both.

Provide me said studies. If you are so sure all the research is on your side, prove it.
As to the rest, comments like
"If addiction is as "miserable" as you think it is no one is going to stay on the drugs " and
"I think drug addicts have enough incentive to kick their habits"
and
"Forced treatment doesnt work and is an affront to the autonomy of the individual"
show your overwhelming naivety on the subject. You clearly have never known any drug addicts, have never seen the horrible effects of a drug addiction and really are not in a position to speak.
I, on the other hand, have, and actually know what I am talking about, so please don't insult me with what you think I might be implying. Come back and chat when you have seen someone you love with their life truly in danger.
Addicts are not better off dead.
They're better off clean.

KC said...

Ruth -

"Drugs do not necessarily kill people" and in less than the next breath you also say "The greatest dangers to the addicts life are overdose..."

There is no contradiction there. Notice my use of the word "necessarily". By using Insite the risk of disease is reduced to zero (since they provide clean needles) and the risk of overdose is substantially reduced (so far eliminate) due to the presence of medical staff. Remove those two risks from the equation (as Insite does) and you have addicts whose chance of death are substantially reduced. All that remains is the damage done to bodily organs that can just as easily be achieved by the legal consumption of alcohol.

"Provide me said studies. If you are so sure all the research is on your side, prove it."

They are all posted on Insite's website: http://www.communityinsite.ca/science.html. And before you throw around claims of "bias" look at the sources--mostly peer reviewed journals--The New England Journal of Medicine, the British Medical Journal, Lancet, Canadian Medical Association Journal, American Journal of Public Health, American Journal of Infectious Disease, the Royal Institute of Public Health.

I'd provide you with some that go against Insite but either they dont exist or I cant find them. Maybe you can find some for me.

"your overwhelming naivety on the subject. You clearly have never known any drug addicts, have never seen the horrible effects of a drug addiction and really are not in a position to speak."

Well actually my fiancee is trained as an addiction counsellor and social worker who has dealt with numerous drug addicts (she told me yesterday she probably couldnt be with me if I didnt support Insite), and I lived in Vancouver for several years and saw what goes on in the downtown east side. I also have done my research and know the key facts--which are that the greater dangers to the lives of heroin addicts (Im not going to lump all drugs together as they are not the same beasts) are from disease and overdose which Insite guards against. There are numerous cases of heroin addicts living functioning lives when those dangers arent present. Does this mean they shouldn't beat their addiction? Absolutely they should. But we have had get tough drug policies for decades and addiction rates have only increased so we're not really choosing between harm reduction and clean living. We're choosing between harm reduction and shooting up in a dirty alley with a dirty needle. Much like naive socialists and their "utopian commune" you're dreaming of a drug free utopia that cannot be realized. Its time to realize the limits of what drug policy can achieve and try to save some lives. It doesnt mean that we stop helping try to get them off drugs (in fact contact with Insite has been shown to help with that). It means being pragmatic rather than ideological and putting the protection of human lives from death and disease above "dont do drugs" dogma.

Ruth said...

Insite is not going to post anything that says what it's doing is a bad idea. You need to post BOTH sides of the argument in order for us to actually make a proper, unbiased, comparison. It is impossible to compare anything when only one side is given. Furthermore, reading the papers on the Insite website does not constitute research and if you have never actually met anyone with an addiction or seen them struggle, then you really don't know the facts the way you think you do... especially if you are coming to the conclusion that addicts aren't really that miserable.

"But we have had get tough drug policies for decades and addiction rates have only increased"

Correlation does not equal causation.

"my fiancee is trained as an addiction counsellor"

Then she's bad at her job.
Sorry.
She's not helping people. She is actively worsening their lives. I'm not insulting her, just stating the facts as I see them. If she actually approves of providing addicts with their drugs under ANY circumstances, then she has no business being an addiction counselor. If she really did tell you that she couldn't be with you if you didn't support Insite, then I am sorry for the relationship you must have. I mean, really, who dictates their partner's views like that?

"We're choosing between harm reduction and shooting up in a dirty alley with a dirty needle."

I am.
You're not.
You're choosing between shooting up in a dirty alley and sooting up in a clean room. A clean room is not reducing harm in any way. Sorry. It's just not. Essentially you have been trying to argue for the safest way to try to kill yourself.
The only possible answer is not to try.

tori said...

read this:

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/pubs/sites-lieux/index_e.html

KC said...

"Insite is not going to post anything that says what it's doing is a bad idea."

Obviously its not but the fact that they are published on Insite's site doesnt mean they are biased. Those are all studies from reputable journals. The reason I cant provide you with the "other side" is that there isnt another side. If there were Tony Clement would be plastering them everywhere. Find some credible studies that go the other way and Im always willing to reconsider my position.

"Furthermore, reading the papers on the Insite website does not constitute research and if you have never actually met anyone with an addiction or seen them struggle, then you really don't know the facts the way you think you do"

Why is it then that so many people who work in the field and so many people who do have addicts in their life support these initiatives? Your appeal to personal experience might have some merit if there werent so many other people with the same experiences who feel the other way. I think I'll trust the science over your say so.

"especially if you are coming to the conclusion that addicts aren't really that miserable"

I didnt say they werent. I said they can live productive lives and that most of the harm they face can be mitigated by initiatives like Insite. I NEVER said they werent miserable. I KNOW many of them are miserable.

"Correlation does not equal causation."

Im well aware of that but we have these policies (the US to an even greater extent) and drug addiction still exist. So we are left with all these drug addicts, no proven solutions, and have to do something to keep them alilve.

"She's not helping people. She is actively worsening their lives. I'm not insulting her, just stating the facts as I see them. If she actually approves of providing addicts with their drugs under ANY circumstances, then she has no business being an addiction counselor."

Thats not fact that is your opinion. From what my fiancee and my father (also a social worker) tell me their view is the overwhelming majority view of those who actually work with addicts.

"You're choosing between shooting up in a dirty alley and sooting up in a clean room. A clean room is not reducing harm in any way. Sorry. It's just not."

Im sorry but your statement is demonstrably false. Addicts have gotten clean needles by visiting Insite and thus avoided Hepatitis and HIV that they otherwise would have gotten by using dirty needles. These diseases are "harmful". Thus Insite has reduced harm by preventing them from getting the disease. ~800 people have overdosed at Insite who otherwise would have overdosed on the street and quite likely died. Instead they recieved medical attention and no one has died of an OD at Insite. Dying of a drug overdose is "harm". Ergo Insite has reduced harm. Like I said its called "harm reduction" not "harm elimination". There is no such thing as harm elimination. We've been trying that for years and its been an abject failure.

Unless you can show me that these addicts using Insite would have otherwise not used drugs at all it is clear that Insite reduces harm.

Ruth said...

Thanks for the link tori.
I feel I should point out that the study clearly shows Insite has had a negligible impact on reducing drug use.

KC:
"Thus Insite has reduced harm by preventing them from getting the disease"

That is a pathetic definition of harm reduction! Basically what you're saying is that if they stop people from getting hepatitis, they have done a good job.
So, in light of that, what exactly is your beef with getting people off drugs or preventing their use in the first place? This also reduces the spread of disease, and fits in nicely with your definition of harm reduction. So what's your problem?
If you actually look at Insite's website, you'll notice that reducing drug use is not in their mandate. All they want to do is make it "safer." As I said before, you can't argue for a "safe" way to kill yourself.
The only safe way is to not kill yourself.

tori said...

np ruth.

i was a bit shocked at the lack of baselines, and the use of non-objective baselines. How does one evaluate a program's effectiveness if they don't have something good to compare it to?

The people who were assigned the task of doing the report are:

Chair - Alan Ogborne, Ph.D. - Private practice and former Senior Scientist with Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

Bryce Larke, M.D., D.Cl.Sc. - Medical Health Officer , Yukon Territorial Government.

Darryl Plecas, Ed. D. - Professor, RCMP Chair in Crime Reduction, Director, ICURS - UCFV Research Lab, University College of the Fraser Valley.

Irvin Waller, Ph.D. - Professor of Criminology and Director, Institute for the Prevention of Crime, University of Ottawa.

J├╝rgen Rehm, Ph.D. - Addiction Specialist and Senior Scientist at Centre for Addiction and Mental Health with cross appointment at the University of Toronto (Professor and Chair Addiction Policy) and the World Health Organization.

KC said...

"I feel I should point out that the study clearly shows Insite has had a negligible impact on reducing drug use."

Yes and decades later the same can be said about enforcement.

"Basically what you're saying is that if they stop people from getting hepatitis, they have done a good job."

Not just hepatitis--HIV and overdose as well.

"So, in light of that, what exactly is your beef with getting people off drugs or preventing their use in the first place? This also reduces the spread of disease, and fits in nicely with your definition of harm reduction. So what's your problem?"

I have no beef with "getting people off drugs" or "preventing their use in the first place". I just cant see how closing Insite achieves either of those objectives. Insite has no adverse effect whatsoever on the initial exposure to the drug--unless you advance the nonsensical argument that people without addictions actually think "hey there is a safe injection site I may as well become a heroin addict". And Insite has resulted in a great number of referrals to counselling and treatment program that they might not otherwise get.

Its not an either or proposition. Keeping Insite open doesnt mean we have to stop funding treatment programs, drug awareness programs, nor does it mean that we have to stop busting heroin dealers and distributors. The overwhelming majority of spending on drug policy go towards these things not Insite. Insite is a drop in the bucket compared to the billions we spend on enforcing drug law. Its well worth the money.

"If you actually look at Insite's website, you'll notice that reducing drug use is not in their mandate. All they want to do is make it "safer." As I said before, you can't argue for a "safe" way to kill yourself. The only safe way is to not kill yourself."

And I have already said that most of the people dying from drug addiction are dying from overdose and disease which they ARENT going to do if they are going to Insite. Most of the killing that drugs do they do through overdose and disease. You dont seem to be getting that fact.

Whats more Insite--through referrals to counselling and treatment--DOES help get people off drugs.

tori said...

kc,

have you read the report I linked to?

Mr Ed said...

KC prefers "cut and paste" to reading. good job tori!

KC,...have you ever watched any reality tv or seen "Intervention" or the Partridge Family guy Joey Budifuco talk about addiction??? Maybe a movie with Micheal Douglas and CZ Jones called "Traffic"? How about "When a man loves a woman" with Meg Ryan... Adicts don't give a damn about themselves or others...they are slave to the drugs and do whatever it takes to get the drugs... The only way to help them is either they help themselves because they bottom out and ask for help because they reach that point, or someone outside their addict life steps in to stop them... they will eventually die from their addiction unless one of those 2 things happen. Game over, end of story, No do-overs, thanks for coming out, pushing up daisy's...

I've known adicts. I avoid them like the plague. I personally have an adictive personality. Fortunately I had the strength of will to stop before booze became an addition... 8 months working in the Northwest Teritories 200 miles North of the tree line can do that...

My point is I stand by my earlier statements. Insite isn't helping anyone except lefties and I'll even expand that to other people who should know better that want to feel good about themselves while enabling adicts to continue to do durgs... and eventually die from their addictions.

as for the Fedral gov't not footing the bill....where do you think health care money comes from buddy...have you heard of fedral transfer payments...?

Fed's believe, as do I, in Accountability. Heres the money, but the money should be spent wisely by the provience... not on feel good projects...

You go now and selectively attack my comments above and give yourself a good pat on the back afterwards... whatever you do though don't actually take a 10-15 minutes to read the details at that link provided above as it blows so many holes in your arguements you wouldn't be able to walk away afterwards...

regardless ... I still say reopen the Riverview facility the NDP closed...not the Liberals.

(FYI...for those not in BC... Provincial Liberals are really more like small C Conservatives although recently This issue, the Hydrogen Highway initiative, and the soon to be released Carbon Tax is launching them rapidly into the Left and will undoubtedly open the door for a 3rd party in BC, which may see either a rebirth of the social cred's or an actual Provincial Conservative party...but I'm rambling...)

Getting these unfortunates off the streets and into a facility that can provide care and "tough love" and real treatment will save more lives in the long run... although I'm sure that lawyers waving the "Charter of Rights and Freedoms" which omits any actual infered or stated "responsibility" will have an issue with that approach... oh, and KC as well

mred said...

KC said - "Nothing that has been done, or is being proposed by anyone (including the federal Conservatives) is going to "reduce crime, [or] cure addiction" (certainly not with 30.5 million)."

Here's what's being spent on Insite taken directly from the gov't report you haven't read...rather then actually attempt to deal with people infected with addiction...


"Cost Effectiveness and Cost-Benefit
The annual operating cost of the INSITE service is $3,000,000 or $14.00 per visit in the year ending August 2007. The cost per individual who used INSITE for injections was approximately $1,380. The 500 most frequent users went over 400 times at an average cost per person of $13,100."

Serious Rehab clinic cost about $30k-40k for one month of serious detox and re-education... 500 x 30,000-40,000 = 15-20 million...10.5 million to burn...

but Vancouver City Hall would rather have a world class dog pound then deal with human problems when they can use Insite for a PR flag and pass the buck back on the Feds???

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