Do Drug Addicts Deserve To Die?
Today is Opioid Awareness Day. Our Chief Executive Officer and Founder Dr Bruce Henderson has written a powerful opinion piece based on his direct clinical experience treating patients. Learn more about the human cost of the opioid epidemic and the compassion that addicts deserve.
As a doctor working in the criminal justice system, I manage patients affected by opioid addiction, attempting to help the short-term risks that sudden loss of access to illegal drugs can cause while in custody, and connecting with services that aim to provide long-term support on release.
Many of the patients I see will die from overdose. It won’t be their fault and they won’t deserve it – whether they chose to take drugs through curiosity, or to escape mental illness caused by traumatic life events, each death is an avoidable tragedy. Not a choice. Not a weakness. A tragedy.
For those that read this and reflect that many people experience traumatic events and don’t turn to drugs, be glad for those that have that strength and try to understand those that don’t.
And for those that believe addiction is a choice, a weakness that can be overcome through strength of character – even if it was – is death a fair and proportionate punishment? Most would be sympathetic where an unhealthy diet leads to a heart attack, or sunbathing causes skin cancer – why not those struggling with drug addiction?
Because nearly every patient I have met with an addiction is struggling and is desperately trying to stop. And one of the cruellest features of opioid addiction is that overdose is more likely as they try – as they reduce opioid use their tolerance for the drug also declines meaning that relapse – just one mistake – can be fatal. This is tragically common.
Deserve /dɪˈzəːv/ – do something or have or show qualities worthy of (reward or
Addiction is not a quality worthy of punishment. We must accept addiction as we do every other disease – with compassion, understanding and access to appropriate treatment. No one deserves a heart attack. No one deserves skin cancer. No one deserves to die from overdose.
Learn more about Opioid Awareness Day and what you an do to help at the following website:
International Overdose Awareness Day: 31st August