The Limit of Shunt is a counterweight to the media reporting on drugs that too often contributes to the stigma against people who use drugs and the widespread misunderstanding of the drugs issue. Contributions are from a variety of sources, but this blog makes no apologies for the clear stance that it takes. Thank you for turning on, tuning in, and dropping by.
As sexist and racist as Rudyard Kipling was/is, he introduced me to this quote today: "If I can attain Heaven for a pice, why should you be envious?" — Opium Smoker's Proverb This quote hung over me as I read this excellent article today.
Please do not be mistaken, as THN is a reasonable concept—reasonable does not make it meaningful, though. It's an easy grab that people who really have no idea about opiate use happily cling onto. Why is it easy? It is easy precisely because you can employ the phrase, "SAVING LIVES". Palatable, huh? Easily digestible in a "working families" kind of way. What gets omitted, though, is the subtext; that is, THN will save the lives of those aberrant individuals who need to finally see the light or come to their senses. It also fits in nicely with an economic rationalist agenda, whereby tax dollars are saved due to the decreased need for ambulance call-outs that have been wasted on the aberrant. At the end of the day, the overdosed individual is nothing more than "fucked-up". A "fucked-up" individual who may deserve Narcan because she/he is somebody's daughter, brother or grandchild; but a "fucked-up" individual nonetheless.
So, while some are taking this avenue of righteousness that is, no doubt, a handy topic that brings in the "compassionate" funding dollars, others are looking at the bigger picture and proposing a truce in the War on Drugs. Here is an example: "Time for a Truce?". You see, I am willing to bet everything that I hold dear that if a national, anonymous referendum was held, in which participants were asked what would have actually made a difference to opiate users' lives over the last, let's say, twenty years between THN and a truce, the former would not even receive earnest consideration.
Sure, those chronic pain patients who think nothing of letting those close to them know about their prescribed use—they might have benefited. But what about the countless illicit opiate users who voluntarily chose to use heroin on their own, followed by a heap of benzodiazepines and/or alcohol, because they were just simply fed up with being treated like a complete "scumbag"? Or what about those individuals who wouldn't have anyone that they could give the THN to, for fear of disclosure?
You know what really saves lives when "the dust settles", so to speak? Treating people like the human beings that they actually are. Allowing them to apply for jobs without the fear of an unfairly-assigned criminal record acting as a blockade; recognising that drug use is innate to the human species and subsequently providing autonomy for all people; leaving fellow citizens with enough money to eat, pay the rent and live their lives. The list goes on...
Again, don't be mistaken—THN is reasonable; but in the way that it is currently being sold in Australia, it is merely serving as a distraction from the real problem at hand. Instead of saving lives, we should be giving them back to those who've had their dignity stripped away. However, if you have no experience of what the unjust removal of one's dignity can mean, why bother thinking or acting in such terms?