Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Want to hurt yourself? Let us help.

I am not a big fan of harm reduction. I accept giving clean needles to people who are addicted, but I don’t like the whole controlled drinking and drug use that is becoming popular with addictions professionals and treatment centers (like the treatment program I recently saw on TV where you can get a free drink of moonshine every hour, provided by the treatment center). Now the Sunday Times tells us that nurses in Britain (if the idea catches on there, it will eventually get here) will soon be voting on “Safe self-harm”. Some nurses want to give “self-harm” patients--patients who cut themselves regularly as a means of releasing tension or other problems--sterile blades and clean packets of bandages. Now, maybe this is not a lot more different than clean needles—both involve helping people hurt themselves in safe ways—but this just seems very, oh, what’s the word I’m looking for, ewwwwwww, to me.

The question is what’s next? Will we provide a safe area for people to kill themselves so they don’t land on anyone else when they jump off the bridge? Free hookers, complete with condoms and regular HIV tests, for sex addicts? I think needle exchange programs are important although they still make me feel uncomfortable. They save people from serious diseases and also prevent the spread of those diseases. I have worked with people who engaged in self-harm activities. I just can’t imagine handing one of them a clean blade, knowing what will happen. Jesus, I can barely even type it without the heeby-jeebies. But I’m curious. What do you think?


At 10:29 PM, Blogger Robert said...

Yeah... it's tough. We don't like to see people hurt themselves but then, if we accept that they are going to do it, it sort of makes sense to minimize the risk.

On the other hand when does it become flat-out enabling.


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