Drug Abuse and Human Rights

By Grainne Kenny
Perhaps we could begin by looking at the rights of offenders ...the drug abuser themselves.
Here too we must include the so called recreational user. It's like comparing apples and oranges.  How can you describe a drug abusing person (all illegal use of drugs use is abuse) as a recreational user and wait until they are fully addicted to name them as problem users?

If you get cancer, is it 'recreational until it become tertiary?  because this is precisely what we are doing to drug using men and women...boys and girls.

By doing so we allow our policy makers to save money and brush an epidemic that is destroying our citizens - many of whom are tax payers - under the carpet. Treatment 'experts' - need to look into their hearts and ask themselves, "Are we doing right by this person or by ourselves?" The Hypocratic oath is "first do no harm". There are too many careers flourishing at the expense of the drug user and his or her family. Figures are too often more important than the human being needing treatment to halt the terminal disease that is drug or alcohol addiction.

If we begin to treat the drug abuser with a clear view to recovery....that is....if we do not engage in maintaining the addict on methadone.....(a cheap alternative to residential treatment)... and... ., if we  heed the warnings of experts on that much high jacked term 'Harm Reduction'....we can begin to change the bleak situation that is a matter of public record in Romania and throughout Europe with abusers remaining untreated or stuck in the trap of methadone use and abuse

The Irish Drugs Minister has admitted failure in reducing the Irish drug epidemic through his Government's dependence on Methadone when speaking at the United Nations Conference in Vienna in 2009. The Irish figures show that from a group of approximately 15,000 known drug addicts there are now 8000 firmly stuck on methadone programs still addicted and many poly abusing.  Including the cross addiction to alcohol.

It's time we all raised these questions and learned from them;


Surely by now we have learned that all drug use is problematic, if not through violent acts then though absenteeism, academic failure, drugged driving... and health problems associated with the effects of the drug.   Drugs are illegal because they are dangerous they are not dangerous because they are illegal.  The use of the term 'problem drug use' is  a flaw in European drug policy documents. This implies that treatment is withheld until drug use reaches the tertiary stage. It implies that early intervention in the drug using career is less urgent. It implies that cannabis and ecstasy use is recreational ignoring the public nuisance and family destruction. It ignores that all illegal drugs are addictive. It ignores the constant risk of overdose and psychosis. Families are expected to wait until the damn bursts before drug free treatment leading to recovery is instigated. Thus, save the State money.

Getting the equipment needed to use illicit drugs is now a legal right in many European states.  It does not make sense and puts police and in a difficult situation. Drugs are illegal yet the paraphernalia to use them is legal. Is this because there is no funding available to treat the addicted person? Is there another cheap option? There are media reports of abusers lined up at a needle exchange centre where no needles are ever exchanged.

The abuser has a right to recovery. His/her family share that right.  If it is not his or her choice then we have to make that choice for them.  Recognise that drug abuse is a compulsion to repeat the effect of a particular drug.  The abuser is powerless while using. Drugs Courts for non violent offences, Residential Rehabilitation, Drug Testing, and Education (Most addicts drop out of school early),  Job Training, Work Experience, Housing coupled with support to the recovering addicts and their families.  The Social Worker plays an import ant role here. The abuser must take responsibility also for his or her actions. There can be no soft options.

Many abusers may not have families or they may be 2nd generation abusers with no prospects and caught in the poverty trap. That makes them no less human.  Poverty is responsible for much of the human misery that surrounds this pandemic.   Experience has taught us... there is no such thing as a hopeless addict.  Some take longer than others to recover with frequent relapses. It does not make them hopeless. We cannot prejudge. Drug Abusers are manipulative, deceitful and a public and family nuisance most of the time. That is the nature of the disease. This does not mean they are untreatable.  It emphasizes the importance of properly evaluated prevention programs that do not teach a safe way to use toxic and addictive drugs.  There is no safe way due to the nature of the drugs consumed. The only outcome is addiction.

   Finally to wrap it up...drug abusers have rights.  

        They are human beings and somebody's child, partner or parent. They have a right to be drug free. That is their basic human right.  They then have a right and a need for job training, employment, (Idleness and boredom is the greatest threat to recovery) coupled with on-going support that includes their partners and families. Drug abuse is a lifelong disease needing constant treatment and follow- up.  However, this will NOT happen if we continue to drip feed them substitute drugs...and the means to use them without careful observance and support. By doing so we are enabling their addiction....perhaps suicide or overdose.

 
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