The Doctor Game: Island readers on ideas for addicts
Eureka! Last week I reported it was impossible to write this column. I had asked readers to respond to how I believe 42,000 addicts on methadone should be treated.
Then my computer developed terminal cancer and I thought all your responses had been lost. Fortunately, the “Geek Squad” resurrected them.
From a Times Colonist reader: “Your suggestion that sending addicts to northern Canada to chop wood caught my eye.
“I was impressed by your research. The addicts I have known have no interest in getting off methadone and improving themselves. I say, enough of this nonsense. Why not have them chop wood? We all do some form of work to eat.”
This reader then added: “I initially believed that the practice of hanging drug dealers in Singapore was too extreme. But on further thought I’d hang them myself if they gave heroin to my healthy innocent granddaughters.”
BL writes: “I have been employed as a correctional officer since 1980. In those days, heroin addicts would be placed in the medical unit without methadone. They had a few painful days, but were then back to normal. You are right that doctors see a financial windfall and will not stop using methadone. The whole system is wasting taxpayers’ money and the government seems oblivious to it.”
BR says: “I don’t reply to columns, but feel compelled this time. I strongly disagree with methadone clinics and our permissive attitude to drug lords. In yesterday’s newspaper, the Philippine president elect urged the public to kill drug dealers. I’m friends with many police officers who say our system is broken in favour of the bad guys. I say thugs should be put on display at City Hall. Your article hits an important issue that we must all be responsible for our actions.”
From Thunder Bay: “Bravo to your article. The drug industry will be mortified by this column. Methadone is just swooping one drug for another. As you stated no one has died from drug withdrawal, but millions have died from drug usage. Keep up the good work.”
PD says: “My wife and I always look forward to your columns. I met the director of the Vancouver Narcotics Addiction Foundation who explained the methadone program to me. It has always seemed absurd to me. It’s just a legal dependency being substituted for an illegal addiction. I’m pleased you have blown the whistle.”
From Courtney: “We agree 100 per cent with your opinion. We don’t try to cure alcoholics with free liquor and the same reasoning should apply to drug addiction which taxpayers are forced to pay. And my thanks to all the good medical advice you pass along.”
But I was taken to task by some readers. H.M. says: “I read with dismay your recent column. What has happened to your compassion? Is your solution punishment for every addiction, alcohol, cigarettes, food? Wouldn’t the doctor’s credo of ‘do no harm’ apply to addiction?”
Another writes: “Punishing drug addicts is a very outdated theory. Addiction is a disease of the brain. Punishment should be doled out to doctors who carelessly write opiate prescriptions.”
W.T. says: “I enjoy the wisdom of your columns. But I was disappointed to discover a fascist streak in your personality. Like Hitler and probably Trump, you are not a supporter of human rights. Personally I believe drug use should be legalized and if anyone steps over the line they then face the criminal system, and, yes, chop wood. Having said this, keep up your excellent column, warts and all.”
The column certainly rang a bell as some readers sent me 800-word replies.
The majority deplored today’s politically correct actions of offering free drugs, needles, places to shoot up and promoting the victim, “poor you,” mentality. Others were amazed that 42,000 addicts were being treated with methadone in a single province at great expense. Some were appalled at seeing addicts lined up at their local drug store to get their daily fix.
I would like to thank those who took the time to respond. And, of course, my thanks to the Geek Squad for saving the day.
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