Decriminalize Heroin! – 

February 19, 2020 – I CAN SAY without a shred of doubt that the most stigmatized people in our society are those who use illicit drugs. ‘Junkies’, ‘dopeheads’ and ‘crackheads’ are some of the words that capture the general public’s loathing for this group.

Sadly, it has been demonstrated that this antipathy to illicit drug users exists in spades among the public services, including the health service.

The public attitudes focus on blaming the drug user for their fecklessness and lack of character. This is ironic considering that the evidence demonstrates that the precursors to drug use are childhood trauma and poverty.

A class issue

I often ask classes from middle-class schools and colleges for everyone who knows a heroin user to identify themselves –  a small number of people might put their hands up. I then ask how many know someone who has died from heroin use. Occasionally one or two will raise their hands.

If I ask the same questions in an inner-city primary school almost all the class will have their arms in the air. Blaming individuals for the results of societal ills is surely one of the gravest injustices.

There is an overdose of moralizing about addiction. I believe there is nothing wrong with addiction in and of itself. All the problems lie with the consequences of addiction.


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