Casting the city's opioid crisis as a "What Would Jesus Do" equation, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Tom Farley told KYW NewsRadio, "If it were your daughter who you've tried to get into drug treatment, but she was continuing to inject despite that, you would want to make sure she injected safely so that she doesn't die."
I would want to protect my daughter, but that doesn't mean I would steer her to what's coming: A city-overseen "safe injection site" that is neither safe nor legal.
I would consider myself a failure as a parent if I did not get my daughter into treatment. And I could fail, because thousands of parents have been unable to cajole or force their children into rehab. Opioids are so pernicious that even after some of those who are addicted are brought back from death with naloxone, they reach for a syringe.
I once lived with an alcoholic, powerless to rescue her because you can't save people until they want to be saved. The person who was once a loving spouse, or child, or sibling will rob you blind for drug money. For their own protection, generations of families have had to expel those addicted to drugs from their homes.
Using mystifying logic, Farley asserts sending those addicted to drugs to a site to shoot up "safely" does not promote drug use.
If it makes it "safer," of course it does. How can you deny it? And new research published in the International Journal of Drug Policy downplayed the assumed benefits of the sites.
I put quote marks around "safer" because those suffering from drug addiction take their lives in their hands every time they shoot up. When they buy street drugs, they walk into the unknown, which is why so many of them OD.
It is a nightmare. What do we do?
The city is getting ready to launch "safe injection sites," needing an operator, funding, and a location. I hear this is imminent.
The idea is well-intended, but it is illegal. City officials don't care. We are a nation of laws only when it is convenient, it sometimes seems.
It's not just the mean feds talking about the l-a-w. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro reminds us that "safe injection sites" are illegal and, "There's no safe way to inject yourself with this kind of poison."
Yes, you can show me data from Canada and elsewhere that some of the addicted do volunteer for treatment at "safe injection sites." Others inject, overdose, are brought back to life, and promptly inject again. This illustrates the grip of the vice they are in.
The site may protect them from physical death, but they are kept in narco spiritual death. While few or none die at the site, others die after going home.
Is our solution to accommodate their vice, normalize their wretched existence, in the magic belief they will exit the spiral on their own? Should we make their moral and physical collapse comfortable, or should we demand they assume responsibility for their own lives?
Since they are breaking the law, might we do better by incarcerating those who are addicted, not in jails but in treatment facilities?