Monday, May 23, 2005

U.S. NEEDS HUMILITY - much to learn from Islamic Republic of Iran!

In the Islamic Republic of Iran the Deputy Minister for Health recently (March 7, 05, Ref 7b-151095) distributed to academic, scientific and clinical leaders throughout the country an "Executive Order" of the Judiciary Branch Ref. 1-83-14434, Jan. 24, 05). In essence, the Head of the Judiciary reminds everyone that harm reduction measures such as needle/syringe exchange and methadone maintenance have been determined to be a "means of combating HIV and Hepatitis infections among drug addicts."

It concludes, "Therefore no judicial authorities should impede the implementation of such needed and fruitful programs." It defies comprehension that evidence-based policies and practices, whose necessity is absolutely clear to the Iranian Government and most nations of the world, continue to be denied and vilified by the US Government, which eschews even the semantics of "harm reduction" and thus condemns to death countless people at home and abroad. A little humility would seem the key prerequisite if America is to join the great majority of nations that have accepted the fact that the world really is not flat, that harm reduction is effective, and that "just say no" is not going to succeed as the cornerstone of anti-drug efforts.


At 4:10 PM, Blogger Daniel Moen said...

The Regan's and thier "Just Say NO" campaign was probably one of the most ineffective government policies ever written. It created a very unrealistic situation for addicts. Some of us felt as though we should just be able to say NO and that would be all there was to it. Obviously the body of government officials that created the campaign has never experienced the impossible hold that opiates have upon the addict. It still shocks me today that people cannot take the time to understand that the few methadone programs we have need all the support there is from all of our citizens. They seem not to be able to see how much "harm reduction" these programs create. whenever there is an annoucement that a methadone clinic is planning on being built in a community, those community members protest without even looking up that current statistics on how much a program/clinic can help the community. Clients stop using illegal drugs, therefore there is usually a decrease in crime, methadone maintenance allows those that are unemployable to get straight and find a job rather than hunting for something to steal all day long to pay for thier drug of choice. America does lack the humility that the majority of other nations have. Through education I hope that we are able to demonstrate to the american public just how effective harm reduction can be and that just "saying no" will never work as the cornerstone of anti-drug efforts.

At 4:25 PM, Blogger RGNewman, MD said...

yes - it's quite amazing how "just say no," which is illogical to begin with, continues to define the response to addiction that so many Americans support - notwithstanding the consistent evidence that after several decades, the "drug problem" is as bad as ever - or worse. On the other hand, 40 years of demonstrated effectiveness of methadone treatment in improving health, reducing deaths etc fail to elicit the support needed to extend this treatment to more than about 20% of those who need it.


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