It’s a matter of health

I visited the chemist today. The purpose was another supply of life giving drugs prescribed by my doctor. While killing time I wandered aimlessly around the shop and when I spotted them they reminded me of yet another incident this witless fellow has faced. Years ago, an ancient heirloom was in need of some loving attention. Its wood was riddled with borers. For which the man at the hardware shop had a cure.

He said, “You can rid the wood of the infestation if you apply this chemical in every hole you see.” The borer holes were small and the bottle label suggested a needle was the best way to inject the substance. So on a Saturday afternoon, when dressed in the old rags I kept for labouring work, I drove to the only place I thought would have what I was after. The chemist in Eltham was open. So off I went.

When I entered the shop the female attendant who was more used to selling cosmetics to fashionable ladies walked up to me , and she asked the question she was trained to ask, “May I help you?”

“Yes, I would like to buy an empty hypodermic needle, thanks.”

Her facial expression immediately changed. She walked back sideways, training her eyes on me until she was able to reach out and select a needle. Then I asked if could have two of the largest needles she had. After finding them she reached forward lest I touch her and took the money I was holding out for her. Without so much as dropping them into a paper bag she handed them to me with out stretched arms. It was the memory of this whole exchange that returned to me today.

What if I needed the implement to administer drugs? Lots of people have legitimate reasons to inject themselves. The unfortunate infantile diabetics sufferers have the curse of needing daily use of them for life. Some cancer suffered have to use them periodically especially after radiology. People with iron problems, or pregnancy, and some take Vitamin 12 for anaemia. The truth is there are very many reasons an ordinary visitor to a pharmacy might need a needle to stay well.

The response of the female attendant was biased because she determined the only reason I would need a needle was because I was a bad, mad, druggie. Drug users are madly addicted to the drug of their choice. Last night we watched an insane program called Patrick Melrose. It reminded me of Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, This was a drug fuelled semi biographical piece that was later named the Gonzo movement where drug induced people wrote about their tortured minds and drug addiction.

Drug addiction is not nice. Few nights pass in my life when I do not give into the desire to have a drink of wine or of spirits. Alcohol is bad, it ruins many lives, yet it is a drug I have consumed most days for years. If I was told I couldn’t drink I would become upset. Yet no one seriously proposes the closing of bottle shops today. Strangely they are more common today than Wine Shops ever once were.

Alcohol kills people. So do drugs of dependence. The list of banned substances includes marijuana, heroin, cocaine, speed. I’m sure you can add another ten drugs that people regularly consume. Ice is apparently one of the most often consumed drugs of choice. According to health workers it is BAD. It causes people to do irrational things. I causes violence. It causes blackouts. So does alcohol.

The American nation discovered way back, almost 100:years ago, banning alcohol was impossible. To ban it just created a master class of criminal. One who specialised in selling banned goods. The War On Drugs being waged across the globe is making many bad people rich. It is also making many sick people sicker. It is making them badder but it is not treating them as people in need of compassion. We need to show compassion to those in need of their daily fix. Because they’re people who need treatment. This is different from saying they need to be locked up. It is different to saying they need the Lord’s loving help to turn away from sin. They need treatment in the same way as any person with an addiction does. No one proposes we lock up cigarette smokers. We understand they need to have nicotine for it is greater that their rational want to give up smoking.

Fortunately I can say one member of our family has had the judicial responsibility of recognising the need for the drug addicted. The opinion is, it is the need for medical treatment that is the primary responsibility of the medical profession. As a result of the direction given, the State Government has reacted. It now provides a centre where the drug addicted will be helped. They will be assisted to give up drugs, If on the other hand they elect to take drugs they will be supervised, from the moment they have made the choice to inject a dangerous substance into their system, they will be monitored until they are safely delivered on the other side. The work of this person is one that allows this writer to live in reflected pride.

The fact is it can happen to anyone. Anyone putting anything in their mouth takes a risk. Some learn a drink of coke is enough for them to be addicted to the hit sugar gives. Some become addicted to medication given to them to reduce pressure and later get to hate ever taking Valium. Some who live in countries where alcohol is banned will travel to countries where it is freely available just to gain a moment of freedom without religious persecution. No one sets out to become addicted. Some will happily tell you they have taken banned substances for years without detection. They are like the drinker who learns to drink in moderation. To be moderate is all anyone aims to be. Sadly to learn your body reacts differently makes you a victim in need of help not derision.

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