Syringe Exchange Programs

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Currently needle and syringe exchange programs are not federally funded or supported in the United States, even though the support is growing. Generally speaking, the implementation of such programs is difficult based on the social rejection of the people the services would benefit, and the legal funding restrictions. Nevertheless, the National Institute of Health identified six characteristics of successful syringe exchange programs implementation (Downing 2014). First off, the debate needs to be set in a way that is considerate of both the political and cultural norms; also, the effort needs to involve community building and involvement. Third, there needs to be sufficient leadership; and easily accessible resources; and use of research finding and supporting evidence of the programs; and lastly, the implementation process must ignore any fear of social or political hostility (Downing 2014). While as a nation we have a long way to go, I think the potential for successfully implementing federally funded needle and/or syringe exchange programs, or other similar programs devoted to harm-reduction and risk-prevention, are just around the political and social corner of reforming the view on drugs.

The New Opiate Addict
Opiate addiction is not what it once was thought to be. At the beginning of opiate use it was socially acceptable and typically administered through smoking or snorting. However social interpretation of opiate use quickly changed as unemployment began to increase at the beginning of the 20th century as the industrial boom began to decline in the United States. At the time, millions of Chinese immigrants were employed to build the railroad. The Chinese were also known for smoking opium in opium dens. At...

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...conomic class, whose dependency most likely began after being prescribed opiates. This has resulted in a demographic shift in the subpopulation of heroin addicts, which further emphasizes the misguided stereotyping of heroin addicts in particular, but also probably other drug subculture demographics as well. Addicts need to be identified as sick individuals who deserve the same health services and treatment as other individuals addicted to other, more socially accepted habits, like eating sugar or socially acceptable alcohol abuse. We, as a country and society, need to harbor on the need for more societal, political and financial support of better, more effective, non-punitive means to rehabilitate drug addicts. Thus, both the social and legal exclusions of addiction need to be rethought, while also replacing the inherently engrained image of an opiate drug abuser.
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