Last active last year
If heroin addicts don't have access to a long-term residential drug addiction treatment center they sometimes turn to solutions that simply reduce the potential harm caused by the addiction. Safe injections sites are a prime example. Insite, the first safe injection site in North America, is now under attack by Canada's Minister of Health, who thinks these sites condone heroin addiction. But at the same time, he's withholding funding for a drug addiction treatment center that could really handle the problem. Where is an addict to turn?
A safe injection site is just what it sounds like - heroin addicts go to the location to shoot up. They bring their own drugs, and inject them at the site. So, how is that a step in the right direction? The addicts use clean needles and thereby lower their risk of HIV, AIDS and hepatitis (and the possibility of those being spread to others), used needles don't wind up littering the streets where they can, and will be, used by someone else, and since the addicts are shooting up in the presence of staff who watch over them, the number of overdose deaths is reduced.
True, that doesn't handle heroin addiction; for that you need a long-term residential drug rehab center. But it does reduce the harm to both the addict and others, it exposes heroin addicts to people who they might never be in contact with otherwise who will try to guide them into the treatment that will end their addiction, and it reduces health care and other costs for the city.
Insite, located in Vancouver, Canada, has come under attack more than once and is currently under the fire of Tony Clement, Canada's Minister of Health. Clement argues that Insite does nothing to handle the heroin addiction problem and, in fact, encourages it.
While there's no doubt that getting people into a drug addiction treatment center is the only way to handle heroin addiction, anyone who thinks a safe injection site is going to turn people into heroin addicts or even encourage them to continue doesn't understand the heroin addiction problems these sites are trying to resolve.
First of all, absolutely no one is going to get addicted to heroin because there's some safe place they can shoot up. Second, the people these sites deals with aren't people who have decided to end their heroin addiction, they're people who either are not up to that at all or who have tried but been unsuccessful which is the case with 95% of heroin addicts who make the attempt. And there are plenty of them.
Clement says he wants something that will really handle heroin addiction. Nevertheless, he's trying to cut heroin addicts off the from the only contact they have in their lives that might make that possible and, worse, he's dragging his feet on funding the type of addiction treatment that can really handle the problem.
The British Columbia government has pledged $2.4 million to finance a long-term residential drug addiction treatment center that is to begin accepting people for treatment in January. A request has also been made to the federal government for $2 million to help with the funding but, after a year, it still hasn't been approved. If Clement is so hot on ending heroin addiction, where's the money?
Senior year of high school Julio started using inhalants. He was bored. A friend offered him gold spray paint. He inhaled, and got a buzz. He liked it. Thus began his recreational use of inhalants. He had good grades in school. And he was doing what he loved, he had always wanted to play soccer, and he was good; being the #6 leading scorer his junior year, and All State. And he was maintaining a 3.0 grade point average.
He arrived at college, with a full financial aid scholarship. He needed this. He was being raised by his father's parents, as his dad was doing time for accidentally shooting his mother when Julio was 3 or 4. His inhalant usage manifested into an addiction. Julio threw it all away. He flunked out of college, and was kicked out of school, losing all his financial aid.
By the time he was 30, Julio had been arrested 15 or 20 times, he has lost count. This last time he was given an offer to try a new type of incarceration. A place where the inmates are called students and even though it's a fully secure facility, he finds he feels at home there.
The Second Chance Center is a secure long-term residential rehab and transition program providing an alternative for the judiciary to traditional sentencing to jails and prisons, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The program was started by Rick Pendery, a drug rehab veteran, who had piloted a similar program in two Mexican prisons for over five years. "The intent of the program is to restore personal integrity and self-esteem in the inmates, and stem the rising rate of recidivism," explained the CEO of the center, Rick Pendery.
"After arriving at Second Chance on September 7th of 2006," Julio explains, "I tried to maintain optimism about being able to successfully function in a sober manner. But with so many failed attempts in the 30 years of my life haunting my memory, my excitement level was low. All at once I noticed the straightforward attitude of the staff and their warm confident receiving of myself that screamed nothing but success. I perceived a vibration that no matter what has occurred in the past or where I'd failed at in life, if I would just allow myself this opportunity, things would be different, and I would not fail!"
"It's been a step by step process in getting to where I am now from where I was at the beginning." Julio continues. "At times, the only assurance I had that I was still making progress and being productive was by taking my supervisors' word that I would get through it. It's never been an easy program to follow. The idea is simple. But actually doing it is not at all a piece if cake. It takes a lot of hard work and it's this hard effort made which requires sincere dedication and discipline."
A unique prison rehabilitation model inside the criminal justice system, The Second Chance Program specifically addresses common deficits found in offenders with substance abuse histories, such as cognitive behavioral skills, life skills, and the development of moral values and restoration of self-esteem, which have been found to have a positive impact on the development of pro-social behaviors and reduced recidivism. Delivered in a secure setting, this six to eight-month program also offers a long-range nutritional and sauna based detoxification program which uses no alternate drugs.
"As I continue to accomplish each step, I become more motivated to continue accomplishing what I set out to do.", Julio says, "I am not willing to give up in exchange for the past failures or lifestyles. I am just thankful to my lord for his hand of mercy extending through the concept of this program, its staff and my fellow students to support and encourage my continued success here in the program as well as outside of the program in life. Its an ongoing success story that continues today."
Julio also said, "I had not encountered relief from the whirlwind of recidivism within our justice system until Second Chance. I am no longer a part of it's vicious cycle but have now become an entity and future pillar in our communities and state willing to assist others in breaking that cycle. My new attitude, outlook on life and actions give credibility to the scripture 'You can tell a tree by the fruits it produces'. It is through the personally observable transformed life that will encourage others to seek out the same results seen in us. Because of the opportunity presented to me by the Second Chance Program to mature mentally, physically and spiritually as well as the sincere urging and encouragement to do so, we now embraced and continue to run with the Second Chance of having granted myself a Stay of Execution from my own, Self Imposed Death Sentence that I had once voluntarily handed down to myself because of my choice to use drugs."