Why I support those who do drugs

I don’t consume drugs, but I support freedom and protection for those who do.

I don’t consume drugs.

I’ve never injected drugs. I’ve never smoked drugs. I’ve never swallowed drugs. I’ve never had a cigarette or a beer. Heck, I’ve never had a drop of alcohol. I’ve never even drank a single cup of coffee. The only drugs I have consumed have been prescription drugs.

And one might think that someone in my position would see drug consumption from a pretty puritanical lens: that drug consumption is a choice and so social policy around drugs should be based on this idea of choice.

But I see choice as only one part of the environment around drug usage.

I mean, it’s pretty easy to see having a beer after work or a wine at dinner as a choice. I don’t think most people would argue with that.

But what about smoking? Do smokers choose to take smoke breaks? Or is there something else driving those actions?

And are there situations as well where something else drives drinking other than individual agency? What about street drugs?

Addiction is a biological phenomenon. It forces people to consume substances, whether they want to or not. Substance consumption isn’t always about choice.

Even then though, some drug consumption is done by choice, just like the after-work drinks I mentioned above. Some people choose to consume drugs and never have to deal with addiction. But just because some people can freely consume drugs without it affecting their social or financial life, doesn’t mean everyone can. Just like with alcohol.

The way I see it, we should treat drug consumption the same way we treat alcohol consumption.

No matter how many people we see addicted to alcohol, even if they’re sleeping on a park bench, we’ll never see alcohol consumption as bad. Drug consumption doesn’t have that luxury. It’s almost universally seen as bad, no matter how few people end up addicted to it.

And as a result, we as a society do very little to accommodate people use drugs, especially those addicted to drugs. In fact, we denigrate and ridicule them instead. We keep drug usage illegal, which reduces the resources we can provide to keep people alive and to mitigate harm that may come to them.

I don’t consume drugs, but I support freedom and protection for those who do.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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