Harm Reduction Is a Myth

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

One of the nice-sounding and disaster-creating policies of the past few years is the insistence that "harm reduction" is superior to enforcing laws against illegal drug use. 

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Who doesn't wish that addicts could be helped to lead safer, healthier, and less crime-ridden lives and hurried along the path to recovery? I certainly don't want to see potentially happy and productive people thrown onto the trash heap of civilization. 

The problem is that this noble sentiment is, as with so many others, sentimental tripe. "Harm reduction" doesn't reduce harm to addicts; it spreads the harm around so that everybody gets to enjoy living in a trash heap of a city. 

Those who advocate for harm reduction—a Biden-endorsed policy that prioritizes users’ safety over their sobriety or abstinence—say they’re helping fix the problem. But when I visited Kensington last month, Bingham and almost a dozen other residents told me that the activists are actually the ones causing it.

“You can’t buy, use, and recover in the same neighborhood,” Bingham says, repeating a line that she says has become a mantra for her and her neighbors. “That’s not a thing.” 

And yet, she says anyone who complains about the nonprofit workers and volunteers who hand out millions of free syringes a year in Kensington using public dollars is “vilified.” 

“We’re being made to look like we don’t care about people or we’re racists,” says Bingham, adding that she’s “been called a lot of names” by local drug users, including “n——er” and “Uncle Tom bitch.” 

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Activists like to sweep the fact that George Floyd was a fentanyl and drug addict, and in the wake of his death, a wave of crime, drug abuse, and hopelessness has swept the land. Had Floyd been forced to clean up or incarcerated for his past crimes until he did, thousands of people would still be alive, and our cities would not be turning into s**tholes.

Harm reduction is based on what seems a good idea: treat the addict instead of punishing him. Make his drug use safer since many addicts will never kick the habit. Better to have a healthier addict with a potential future than an ill one, right?

A growing chorus of Kensington homeowners, entrepreneurs, and even a city council member—many of them lifelong Democrats—told me that for too long, Philadelphia has offered harm reduction as the single solution to its opioid crisis. On one end of the spectrum, harm reduction can mean doling out free syringes, Narcan, and fentanyl test strips. But it can also mean “safe injection sites” and even supplying addicts with “medical grade heroin,” which Canada has been doing since 2020 as part of its “safer supply” program. There, as in Kensington, overdose rates have continued to reach record highs since instating these protocols.

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Handing out drugs, paraphernalia, and Narcan and turning a blind eye to drug use has led to record overdoses and a sense of hopelessness among the non-addicted. 

Life is almost always about trade-offs, and trade-offs can be cruel. If you have to choose between alleviating the suffering of an addict chasing death one needle at a time and helping a child, a family, a community climb their way up the ladder to a better life, the choice should be easy. 

But as with so many things, the Left chooses the worst option. 

It's not that addicts are disposable; they aren't, in principle. But it's clear that everything that has been done to help the addicted has not worked, and harm reduction has been the "not workingest" policy we have tried. 

As you can see by the reaction the harm reduction advocates have to Sonja Bingham--shouting racial epithets at her for trying to save her family and her neighborhood--addicts are at a higher spot on the intersectional ladder than Black single moms. She must be sacrificed for the greater victim who, in this case, is destroying not just themselves but everybody around them. 

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The hostility to normalcy is the most consistent aspect of Leftism. That Sonja doesn't embrace the chaos proves she is the problem.

Guess which side of the argument the Democrats have chosen?

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Dennis Prager 12:00 AM | May 22, 2024
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