Safe Drug Use Is Not the Answer

By: Katie Rose

Should we, as a society, be allocating funds into safe drug use or put those funds toward rehabilitation, education, and prevention? In a sense, the logic behind providing and promoting safe drug use is to prevent harm and minimize the risk of drug related death, but the real harm is in enabling addicts and users to keep using. In the past two years, drug related deaths have increased for Virginians by over twenty-two percent.[1] There are many factors that are to blame for the number of drug overdose death across the Commonwealth of Virginia including but not limited to COVID-19 isolation and depression.[2] More Virginians feel as if self-medicating is the way to live their lives, however, this is not the direction in which we should be headed.[3] We owe it to our Commonwealth to not implement policies that would allow these vulnerable individuals of our society to be left with one option: keep using. Instead, Virginia needs to find ways to enable these members of our community to seek rehabilitation, education, and further prevention as opposed to enabling them to keep using.

In providing safe substances for addicts to use, we are simply prolonging rehabilitation and forcing these members of society to utilize the system. In allowing and endorsing policies such as those that enable users to keep using, we are simply just keeping them on a ventilator. We need to instead find more ways to rehabilitate these members of our community back into a society to which they can then contribute to.

Furthermore, allocating funds to safe drug use enables and encourages users to keep using.[4] Unfortunately, this does not stop with those who have already fallen victim to the drug epidemic in this country  and in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This concept of providing safe drug use, enables new users to pick up the habit themselves.[5] If an individual knows that they can use without risk or minimize the risk of death, then, they will be more inclined to use and subsequently become addicted to these highly addictive, dangerous, and otherwise unregulated substances. The bottom line is clear: safe drug use policies enable drug use – not prevention, education, and rehabilitation.[6] Additionally, it does not solve nor cure the issue at hand: the addiction.[7]Do we really want to create a society in Virginia where we are a roadblock for users and addicts to seek rehabilitation? Afterall, these are members of our community, and it is up to us to lead them to a safe and happy life that allows them to truly live. We achieve this through not stopping with “just keeping them alive.”

Lastly, as a matter of public policy, and for the Commonwealth of Virginia, this is a slippery slope and an inevitable legalization of all drugs including killers like heroin and fentanyl. In fact, this policy will only benefit padding the pockets of Virginia’s pharmaceutical industry, particularly manufacturers and distributers. More Virginians died from drug overdoses than those who have died from gun shootings in the past year.[8] Promoting and or endorsing safe drug use is equivalent to arming drug users, distributers, and manufacturers in Virginia. Safe drug use does not correct nor correspond to the issue at hand which is and should be saving as many lives from the drug epidemic in this country as well as in the Commonwealth of Virginia as humanly possible.

 

 

[1] Jeff South, As fatal drug overdoses continue to rise in Virginia, new record could be set this year, VIRGINIA MERCURY (Nov. 24, 2021) https://www.virginiamercury.com/2021/11/24/as-fatal-drug-overdoses-continue-to-rise-in-virginia-new-record-could-be-set-this-year/.

 

[2] Jeff South, As fatal drug overdoses continue to rise in Virginia, new record could be set this year, VIRGINIA MERCURY (Nov. 24, 2021) https://www.virginiamercury.com/2021/11/24/as-fatal-drug-overdoses-continue-to-rise-in-virginia-new-record-could-be-set-this-year/.

 

[3] Jeff South, As fatal drug overdoses continue to rise in Virginia, new record could be set this year, VIRGINIA MERCURY (Nov. 24, 2021) https://www.virginiamercury.com/2021/11/24/as-fatal-drug-overdoses-continue-to-rise-in-virginia-new-record-could-be-set-this-year/.

 

[4] Jeffrey A. Rosen, Philadelphia Inquirer Op-Ed: Safe Injection Sites Enable Drug Users and Endanger Communities, DEPT. OF JUSTICE (Feb 3, 2020), https://www.justice.gov/archives/opa/blog/philadelphia-inquirer-op-ed-safe-injection-sites-enable-drug-users-and-endanger-communities.

 

[5] Jeffrey A. Rosen, Philadelphia Inquirer Op-Ed: Safe Injection Sites Enable Drug Users and Endanger Communities, DEPT. OF JUSTICE (Feb 3, 2020), https://www.justice.gov/archives/opa/blog/philadelphia-inquirer-op-ed-safe-injection-sites-enable-drug-users-and-endanger-communities.

 

[6] Jeffrey A. Rosen, Philadelphia Inquirer Op-Ed: Safe Injection Sites Enable Drug Users and Endanger Communities, DEPT. OF JUSTICE (Feb 3, 2020), https://www.justice.gov/archives/opa/blog/philadelphia-inquirer-op-ed-safe-injection-sites-enable-drug-users-and-endanger-communities.

 

[7] Jeffrey A. Rosen, Philadelphia Inquirer Op-Ed: Safe Injection Sites Enable Drug Users and Endanger Communities, DEPT. OF JUSTICE (Feb 3, 2020), https://www.justice.gov/archives/opa/blog/philadelphia-inquirer-op-ed-safe-injection-sites-enable-drug-users-and-endanger-communities.

 

[8] Virginia Gun Deaths: 2019, EFSGV (Last visited: Mar. 29, 2022), https://efsgv.org/state/virginia/.

 

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