Published: Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Last week the Seattle P-I publicized the fact that Seattle's University District needle exchange, privately funded and operated by the People's Harm Reduction Alliance, had added clean crack pipes to its arsenal of disease-prevention weapons. KING 5 News picked up the story, as did KIRO Radio.
Many of the reader comments posted to the stories reflect the expected divide in public opinion about needle exchange programs. On the one hand are those who understand that certain strategies focused on reducing the societal and personal harms of drug abuse not only "meet addicts where they are" and provide a compassionate link to treatment and recovery, they also save tax dollars that would otherwise be spent on emergency rooms, hospitalization, and uninsured treatment of Hepatitis C, HIV, and AIDS. On the other are those who think harm reduction strategies simply enable addiction, and addicts would be better served by a dose of "tough love" - or simply left to die from overdose or the diseases they contract.