I am outraged by the commentary “Outside view: Free heroin in Canada” (Website link to United Press International, Monday), which highlights a government program that sets chemical dependency treatment back decades, but I appreciate the information on this very serious issue. The column indicated that $8 million will be spent on the North American Opiate Medications Initiative (NAOMI), a government program that will supply health officials in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto with the resources to distribute injectable heroin (in combination with oral methadone) to a select group of people with heroin dependencies. As executive director of the Waismann Institute, which is dedicated to the advanced treatment of opiate dependency, I think it is a crime against human nature to facilitate this disease rather than find a cure.
First, it is pitiful that the priority of the federal Canadian Institutes of Health Research is not to heal people of this medical problem but to protect society from those who have it by perpetuating their disease. While it may benefit the rest of society to see a decrease in prostitution, crime, and homelessness, such a measure would not help cure the people who are suffering from dependency.
Second, determining that all participants will receive the same daily dose illustrates the program’s ignorance of the medical disease of opiate dependency. Every person who has developed a chemical dependency requires a specific amount of opiates to curb cravings and suppress withdrawal symptoms. When a predetermined amount of heroin is distributed through this new government program, some individuals may become overmedicated and more dangerously reliant as a result, while others may receive too little and experience withdrawal symptoms, which ultimately would force them to the streets to seek out more drugs to satiate their cravings.
Third, this new program would supply heroin injections to select drug users, but how exactly is the government going to produce this heroin? In trying to create a systematic solution, it may actually contribute to the problem at hand. Will it be contributing to the growth of the poppy plant? After opening the door to drug production, what is next? Cocaine? Amphetamines? A drug buffet on Sundays?
Finally (and what disheartens me most), NAOMI will convince individuals who unfortunately have fallen into drug dependency that their cause is hopeless – so hopeless that the government will supply them with the very drug that suppresses their potential. Instead of receiving drugs that perpetuate bad habits, the people who have become dependent on opiates would be better served if they were educated about the details of their physical dependency, specifically how and why their brain requires the drug to function and how they can correct their chemical imbalances with medical treatment. As in the treatment of other medical diseases, being informed about their disease can instill hope that will motivate them to fight against dependency and become drug-free.
The Waismann Method provides advanced treatment for heroin and other opiate dependencies with the goal of giving patients a drug- free life. My experiences have given me hope that the lives of these users can be turned around. It angers me to see this organization give up on the promise of healing these people, and I hope that this ridiculous program does not find a home in the United States.
Beverly Hills, Calif.
Source: The Washington Times