As Oregon — and the nation — struggle to find solutions for addiction, gadflies and politicians are seeking public funding to watch addicts shoot heroin.
There are times, and situations, which cause addicts to consider seeking treatment. We call these "windows of opportunity" and know they open — and shut — often quickly, and often unreasonably. The idea being promoted is by assisting addicts, nurses can reduce the harm addicts invariably cause while waiting for a window to open.
Supervised injection has been explored in Europe, Canada and Australia, but impartial, critical and clinical information about their outcome is meager. Promoting supervised injection is the Drug Policy Alliance, a well-funded and relentless public relations arm of George Soros' Open Society Foundation.
The logic is galling. Calling supervised injection access to treatment for addiction is comparable to expecting alcoholics to get sober by drinking in state-regulated bars and taverns.
The solution for addiction is barrier-free, on-demand, long-term treatment that addresses the mind, body and spirit. Full stop. We know addiction treatment works, we've known it for decades. But until our side of the window — that of providing treatment — is fully open, diversions like supervised injection must be constrained.
Today, in Portland, dozens of heroin addicts who want to stop using will be turned away from hospitals and clinics, told there isn't room, to get insurance, to wait. Access will be denied. The window of opportunity is closed.
The proposed public funds for supervised injection should go to increasing access to treatment.
Denial of access to addiction treatment in Portland is not new. Our city, county and state administrators have known about this bottleneck for decades, and know without medical treatment addicts likely will end up in jail, overdose or harm themselves or others.
They know this —and they have let the problem fester. For decades.
Now activists are pushing something entirely new that isn't treatment at all and may delay treatment. Supervised injection is a diversion — something for addicts to do while waiting for a slot in an underfunded clinic or hospital.
Treatment works — if addicts can get it. With full funding and proper management we can save lives, reduce harm, and support recovery from addiction.