Not all is as it seems...
The truth about heroin use and the Supervised Injecting Facility in Richmond
The purpose of the following is to provide the truth for those with an interest in or concern about heroin use particularly in Richmond, or anywhere there is a supervised injecting facility.
The term 'opioid' refers to natural or synthetic substances that activate opioid receptors in the central nervous system. Morphine is the fundamental opioid sought by those who use opioids 'recreationally'.
No other drug is subject to lies and misinformation to the degree that heroin is. It is portrayed as a drug that can stop breathing due to a simple overdose. This is not true.
Firstly, heroin is not a dangerous drug. It is merely a delivery system for morphine. Morphine causes nausea and constipation.
Secondly, fatal 'heroin overdose' is a fallacy. The danger is combinations of central nervous system depressant drugs. This is when people mix opioids with alcohol, benzodiazepines, anti-depressants or anti-histamines etc.
The chain of events that can lead to injury or death due to mixing drugs is heavy sedation, airway obstruction and asphyxiation. People can become unconscious and suffer a restriction to breathing in their throat caused by posture or vomit. It can occur with combinations of drugs that do not include opioids. It is not related to a loss of the automatic breathing reflex. Multiple-drug toxicity is explained in detail in the Overdose page.
The people used as examples during the campaign for the Supervised Injecting Facility died due to the effects of combining drugs. They did not succumb to 'heroin overdose'.
There is no evidential basis for the concept of fatal 'heroin overdose'. There is only evidence that it does not occur. This evidence is detailed in the Heroin page.
Our 'drug' laws are obviously and undeniably completely unrelated to preventing and reducing drug-related harm, as supply and use of the two most dangerous drugs, alcohol and tobacco (and caffeine) is not addressed. The foundation of our 'drug' laws is the criminalisation and subsequent exploitation of a minority.
Heroin is not 'illegal' on the grounds of health and welfare. There are two overarching reasons why it is 'illegal':
To force its users to obtain it from and therefore sustain, a highly profitable black market
To enable the distribution of public money to enforcement agencies and others using the false justification of 'controlling' its supply and punishing and 'treating' its users
The criminal nature of heroin supply and possession is related solely to the attainment of political advantage brought about by the aquisition of money from the black market in opioids and the distribution of public money from government.
Supervised injecting facilities do not 'save' people from 'heroin overdose' (people who have taken 'too much' heroin). They can assist people who have combined drugs and are in danger of asphyxiation due to airway obstruction brought about by heavy sedation.
The facilities are incorrectly and mischieviously portrayed as existing and being necessary to prevent people succumbing to fatal 'heroin overdose'. Governments, their agencies and others constantly reinforce the myth of 'heroin overdose' whilst remaining silent on the actual danger, which is the combining of central nervous system depressant drugs.
The facilities are not necessary for the safe use of opioids. Opioids can be used safely if combinations of central nervous system depressant drugs that lead to dangerous sedation are avoided.
The facilities do not address in any way, the fundamental inequities, founded in law, that profoundly affect opioid users: the criminalisation of supply and possession.
The supply and possession of opioids outside the medical realm is a criminal offence. Therefore, users are subject to criminal sanctions for possessing opioids and they must obtain their drug of choice from a black market. This makes it virtually impossible for them to lead a normal life, as their lives revolve around securing a supply of the substance from an unreliable source, and often in a different location to where they live.
This situation is not their choice or of their making: it is imposed upon them by governments because it delivers political advantage through the aquisition of money. Users of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine would not accept the supply and possession of their drugs of choice being a criminal act.
Opioid users are denied two things, the same things that users of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine expect and take for granted:
The right to legally possess their drug of choice
The right to a legal and regulated supply of their drug of choice
The reason it is politically possible to criminalise the supply and possession of opioids is because only a very small proportion of the population use them. They therefore have no political power. It is politically achievable to impose upon them conditions that would not be imposed on the users of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.
The use of opioids is no different in principle to the use of alcohol, tobacco or caffeine. It is simply the use of a substance for its psychoactive effects. Opioid users simply have a preference for morphine, the same way others might have a preference for alcohol. Opioid users are criminalised for doing something that is no different to that done by the majority in society: the use of a drug of choice.
Opioid users from elsewhere are coming to Richmond primarily because this is where they can obtain their drug of choice. They are forced to come to a place where they can obtain their drug. They would prefer to have a legal and regulated supply of their drug in the area in which they reside: the same circumstance that users of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine expect as a basic right.
If they live elsewhere, do they like having to travel to Richmond to obtain their drug of choice? No. Not any more than a smoker in Richmond would like having to travel elsewhere every day or so to obtain their tobacco.
The often quoted 'honey pot' effect is created purely by the illegality of supply. Until opioid users have the right to a legal and regulated supply of their drug of choice, they will go to where they can most reliably obtain it from the black market. Currently, Richmond is one of these places.
The most dangerous drugs in Richmond are the same two drugs that are used almost universally world-wide: alcohol and tobacco. The residents of Richmond that use alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, expect to do so without fear of persecution.
Hotel directly opposite West Richmond Primary School
These residents take for granted, and expect the right to purchase their drug of choice in Richmond, close to their places of residence. The two most dangerous drugs in existence, alcohol and tobacco, are sold and (in the case of alcohol) promoted openly in Richmond.
The 'heroin problem' is a situation that is intentionally created. It is created and maintained by governments because it means a lot of money to a lot of people. The 'problem' can be instantly solved by two actions:
The decriminalisation of heroin possession
The decriminalisation of heroin supply
The right to legal possession and a legal and regulated supply is taken for granted by those whose drug of choice is alcohol, tobacco or caffeine. For opioid users, anything less than this is a double-standard and ultimately based on the maintenance of the black market in opioids.
As long as opioid users are denied the right to a legal and regulated supply of their drug of choice, there will be a situation of them coming to a place where they can obtain their drug. As long as possession of recreational opioids is an illegal act, opioid users will be forced to endure a chaotic lifestyle.
The two conditions imposed on opioid users, illegality of supply and possession, exist solely to enable the facilitation of political advantage through financial gain and are not imposed on the users of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. It is purely oppression and exploitation of a minority, based on a double standard.
Opioid users know nothing but hostility and bullying from government, police and society in general. This treatment is not justified, should not be happening and the solution is simple: an end to the oppression.
Honesty and decency towards fellow human-beings is all that is required for an end to the persistant oppression of opioid users. Only an end to the criminalisation of a minority in the name of political advantage and financial gain will deliver a true solution and a civil society in regards to opioid use.