Balsamini explains that since there is so much addiction involved, patients who already have an “inherent propensity for addiction” continue to need more and more. She calls opioids a “gateway drug.”
“When the prescribing of opioids may cease because technically the patient should be doing better,” she explains, “they may need something more.” If they are no longer getting an opioid, they may turn to illicit drugs.
Colón feels that free needle exchange is not promoting the use of drugs for those who otherwise might not be engaging in them. “People are already doing it,” he says. “There is a spectrum of behavior, and what we have to do is edge people towards a cleaner and easier way of living.”
This easier way of living means no drugs, no steps and no mediation. “What we’ve learned in the HIV crisis is that harm reduction is one tool we can use, and we should implement it on a national level.”
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