Why Is This Rogue Needle Exchange Handing Out Meth Pipes?

The People's Harm Reduction Alliance is one of the most daring and innovative needle exchanges in the country. And it's run by users. Five years ago, they started giving out crack stems. Now they're expanding services for methamphetamine users.

Comments

1
Thanks for covering this. Great article.
2
Do these same groups offer users contacts/resources for getting off these drugs if they so desire? Sorry if it was mentioned in the article and I missed it.
3
I have had the opportunity to volunteer at PHRA on a couple of occasions. Thank you, Brendan, for this article. Once again, Seattle proves we are light years ahead of a large chunk of the country when it comes to science, compassion and common sense.
4
He thinks he's doing "good" but in reality, he is enabling a tragic and deadly addiction. Shame.
5
PHRA's ahead of the curve on harm reduction. Good article.
6
@2: of course. Not sure if it's still true (but wouldn't be surprised), but the syringe exchange programs used to be the largest single source of referrals to drug treatment in King County (and, hence, the state). At one point the waiting list for methadone vouchers was almost 18 months long and inpatient treatment might as well not have existed Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act covers drug treatment so waiting lists are declining dramatically.

@4: I double fuckin' dutch dare you to volunteer at a syringe exchange program (assuming one would let you with that attitude) for a few months and come back here and say that. Every stereotype I had about "addicts" was demolished after just a few shifts. To quote Ron Jackson (the former head of Evergreen Treatment Services): "if you've met one heroin addict...you've met one heroin addict".
7
Reminds me of my friend Bob Quinn and I'm glad to see the work he fought for is continuing. http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archive…
8
@7: Bob's spirit and compassion live on in PHRA. As a longtime friend of Bob's (and even on his thesis committee), it is great to see that his ethos of do first, seek permission later continues.
9
I am totally convinced of the public health benefit of needle exchanges. Free crack pipes not so much.
10
#4: I work at a needle exchange in toronto, and working with the 'addicts' as you so negatively call them, has been some of the best years of my life. They are the kindest, most compassionate folks I have ever met. We take care of each other, look out for each others safety. When you accept someone as they currently are, and dont judge their behaviours... wjen they are ready to get help getting clean, they know they have a good network of folks at the exchange rooting for them and supporting them all the way, no matter whay choice they make.

If it weren't for the kindness of the addicts and outreach workers at my exchange, I wouldnt have cared enough about myself to finally decide to get sober... I wouldnt have believed I had any worth. So yes, NEPs might be enabling addiction, but they also enable community building, self esteem, and unconditional love. Without that kind of care most drug users wont even bother thinking that getting better is even an option. Tough love is not how to solve this issue, but compassionate care IS.
11
This article brought tears to my eyes...thanks for putting this together.

I live in CD, and see people around here struggling every day.

Less jails, more outreach....and treatment, when they're ready.
12
Anyone who thinks these programs foster or "enable" drug use or addiction is a fucking moron. People will use and/or abuse drugs, alcohol, sex, food, consumerism no matter what. They are offering support and a safer option without judgement. i have been a participant as well as a volunteer in this program as well as numerous others throughout the country. Having been clean for over 15 years now, I can assure you there is no encouragement to use drugs or to go to treatment, however when I needed help and was ready to stop, where do you think I went? of course they offer alternatives to using and support to quit. Solely from reading a number of these ignorant comments I am reminded why harm reduction is so important. Good work PHRA!
13
The problem of how to patrol bathrooms has been solved. Just replace the lightbulbs with blue lightbulbs. Junkies can't see their veins to shoot up. Someone please tell these people.
14
Happy birthday, article - you're 10 days old!
15
I actually didn't know there was a difference between crack pipes and meth pipes. Anyway, excellent article.
16
I misread the headline and thought it said Meth Pops, and I was like, wow! Meth Pops!
17
The Dutch virtually eliminated heroin injection by educating as to the safer means of ingestion such as snorting and smoking. The measure of harm reduction trading needles for pipes is enormous.
18
Idiots. MAY ALL THEIR TEETH ROT AND FALL OUT.