Sometimes I close my eyes and picture to myself what it would be like to exist in a world without all of the harms and fouls from the 'war on drugs.' I've thought about this place many times before; it has become like my own little utopia.
This world I picture is not just a place where there is no 'drug war'; in my mind, it is much more than that. Call it all wild fantasy or simply unrealistic, but to myself and many others, it's exactly how our world should be.
It's a place where no one has to fix in a dirty public bathroom stall, risking health and disease.
Where Good Samaritan laws exist, and the fear of persecution wouldn't prevent a person from calling for help in the event of an overdose.
Where Naloxone comes standard in first aid kits, and is readily available over-the-counter in pharmacies to anyone who requests it.
A place where addicts are not stigmatized, unnecessarily persecuted, or treated as lesser by law enforcement, healthcare providers and the general public.
Where concurrent disorders/mental health issues are treated promptly with the utmost care and respect.
Somewhere users are not criminalized for possessing drugs for personal use, or the syringes/gear required to use them.
Where no user is judged or discriminated against based on the colour of their skin.
Where users have access to a safe supply of drugs, so not to be harmed or made sick by inferior quality and/or trained product.
It's a world in which users can purchase and access their drugs in a safe environment instead of risk potentially dangerous street deals.
Where no addict is detained, thrown in a cell, and left alone to 'sweat it out'.
A world where users aren't given the death penalty, or life in prison for minor drug offenses.
A place where people aren't kicked out of shelters and housing simply because they struggle with addictions or use drugs.
Where a user would never put off required medical attention for fear of stigma and repercussions from medical professionals and police.
Where a patient isn't denied basic pain management simply because they have struggled with addiction in the past.
A world in which medical treatment for health problems associated with addiction are made readily available, accessible and affordable.
Somewhere compassionate care and treatment are offered with open arms instead of shame and stigmatization.
A place where recovering addicts aren't looked down upon or made to feel lesser for their choice of treatment.
Where abstinence isn't seen as the only way.
Where treatment isn't forced on anyone who doesn't want it. Instead, they are provided the knowledge and tools needed to be safe.
It's a place where safe injection sites and needle exchanges are commonplace.
A world where one doesn't have to be afraid of saying "I'm an addict", or fear the judgements and repercussions that may follow.
Where drug use and addiction aren't seen a moral failures or flaws.
Where parents, family members and friends aren't suffering with the pain of needlessly losing a loved one to overdose or complications of addiction.
Here we are, in the year 2016, and the reality of our world is very far off from the one I have come to imagine. We've certainly made progress, with some places much more idyllic than others, but overall we still lag behind at an unacceptable pace. How much longer are we going to tolerate this unnecessary suffering and loss of life?
For now, I can only know such a world when I close my eyes.
By K. Lanktree
- Freelance Writer -
- Blog Mistress -
- Former IV Drug User -
- Methadone Patient -
- Lover of all things Harm Reduction -
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