Recently, the local news has focused much attention on the continuing homeless camps in Greater Victoria and Nanaimo and the impact they have on any place they occupy for a time. I don’t believe that every homeless person is an addict, but the ones who are have definitely made their mark wherever they go, in the form of discarded drug paraphernalia.
Harm reduction was a positive step toward stopping or at least attempting to reduce the spread of hepatitis C and HIV when it was introduced in the late 1990s, but has now become a runaway train with too much harm and very little reduction. It has become an incentive for addicts to keep doing what they’re doing when they know that they will be provided an endless supply of needles that they can discard anywhere.
There is no incentive for change when the status quo is being enabled and supported. Change cannot happen without accountability.
The harm-reduction ideal should have been paired with a concrete and rigorous network of opportunities for withdrawal and cessation, which have been sorely lacking. Additionally, it has become a detriment to the rest of the population when parents cannot take their children to a park without having to first scour the area for needles.
Band-Aid solutions are rarely successful, and the harm-reduction model seems to have spawned more of a problem than when it was implemented. It is irresponsible to continue to put others at risk. Something needs to change.