– Why do we shun the safe, supervised drug injection sites that other countries use to prevent overdose deaths, minimize public drug use and reduce the dangers of discarded syringes? Why can't we see, as other countries have, how these sites can serve as gateways to treatment and a better, sober life for even the most hard-to-reach opioid users?
– Why aren't we expanding our successful use of the anti-overdose drug Naloxone by making it less expensive and more widely available to at-risk individuals, their families and friends?
– Why don't we offer free, community-based drug checking services that would not only save lives, but also would provide health authorities with real-time information on local drug trends?
– Why do we persist in thinking that we can reduce opioid drug use by imposing harsh criminal penalties? When and where has this ever worked? Why are we so afraid of decriminalizing drug use when Portugal has shown so clearly how decriminalization improves health, restores lives, reduces drug-related crime, saves money, and allows law enforcement to focus on preventing and solving real crimes?
– Why do so many of us continue to believe that doing these things would somehow "send the wrong message" about drug use? Do we really think it's better to continue letting drug users spread disease and die when we have the proven means to prevent it? What sort of message does that send? Is this really who we want to be? Really?
– Why isn't the news media asking these questions? Why isn't there more news coverage of how these practical, health-centered strategies are successfully combating the many harms associated with opioid addiction?
– Why do nearly all of our leaders, and even many of our so-called experts, refuse even to consider these questions?
– Most importantly, why aren't we – all of us – asking these questions? How many more people have to suffer and die before we start demanding answers?
Michael R. Uth is a board member with the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.
Do we really think it’s better to continue letting drug users spread disease and die when we have the proven means to prevent it? What sort of message does that send? Is this really who we want to be? Really?