Treat addicts as people first

In regards to City backs drug declaration, June 14. I was very pleased to read that our city council adopted the Vienna Declaration.

In regards to City backs drug declaration, June 14.

I was very pleased to read that our city council adopted the Vienna Declaration. Our city is showing itself to be really progressive in our approach to how we treat drug addicts and homeless people.

As Jen Vandershaeghe says in the article “Addiction is a mental health issue. It’s not a criminal issue, first.” By treating the psychological, health, and social issues around addiction we will ultimately lower costs, and reduce the number of deaths in our community.

Not to mention that we will be treating addicts as people first rather than criminals. Their dignity will be restored. Is that not worth something?

It is a common and expected reaction to think that this approach is somehow legitimizing drug use. There are real concerns that people will all of the sudden think it is OK to use and there will be no repercussions to their actions.

To this I say, talk to the people who have been helped by harm reduction programs. Ask them if they think they have gotten off scott-free. Talk to the people on the front lines who witness the effects of deadly addictions on a daily basis. Ask them if it is worth it to prolong a life for another day.

It is also worthy to note that another great harm reduction program did not happen this year. Safe Grad was cancelled due to possible threats of police and liquor board investigation.

So far there have been numerous letters to the editor and a big opinion piece, all agreeing that we should support Safe Grad because it saves lives.

Just goes to show how much we value our teenagers and protect them from the consequences of their actions sometimes.

Doesn’t the addict on the street deserve the same treatment?

Scott Brandon

Red Deer