First, a columnist for the Vancouver Sun rightly complains that only two pillars of Vancouver’s four pillar approach have been implemented. The writer promotes a big, audacious (and possibly goofy) idea. Here are the highlights:
The Four Pillars plan totters on only two — harm reduction (which includes the safe injection site, the ever growing distribution of free needles, methadone and possibly free heroin) and the best enforcement Vancouver police can muster without completely abandoning the rest of the city.
Medical experts like Coleman define addiction as a war between two parts of the brain. The forebrain, which controls our intellectual or rational understanding, is not able to keep the mid-brain, the emotional centre, in check.
Addicts are, in Coleman’s words, people who continue to use drugs or alcohol despite knowing the consequences are episodes of loss of control and an ongoing preoccupation with getting that next drink or fix.
So, what we’re left with is this:
We can maintain the status quo, pouring millions of dollars into the Downtown Eastside and pretending that two pillars are four.
We can pack addicts off to the hinterlands and hope they don’t come back as Martians.
Or, we can accept the medical evidence that recovery is a slow, hard process that’s made easier if people get needed services in their own communities where, unimpaired, they can rebuild and resume their lives.
Finally, an ideologically motivated attack against ideologically motivated attacks against harm reduction. (Did you follow that?)