Harm reduction hardly a waste of taxpayers’ money

Re: Freebies for addicts wastes tax dollars, Letters, Sept. 22.

To the Editor,

Re: Freebies for addicts wastes tax dollars, Letters, Sept. 22.

J. Sharpe implies that advocates of harm reduction and health service providers for drug addicts are merely in it for the money.

According to the auditor general, about 85 per cent of our drug control budget is allocated to law enforcement and interdiction, about 13 per cent is directed toward prevention and treatment, and about two per cent is invested in harm reduction.

Evidently the greedy do-gooders are in the wrong business.

Studies show that interdiction is the least cost-effective way to reduce the social costs associated with drug use. Law enforcement is, on balance, counter-productive.

On the other hand, each dollar invested  in prevention, treatment and harm reduction saves several tax dollars downstream. For example, it is much less expensive to provide clean syringes than treat Hep-C and HIV.

With respect to wasting tax dollars, anyone familiar with drugs and drug policy has much more to complain about than the uninformed critics of harm reduction.

Matthew M. Elrod


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