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Letters: Pens and needles

Johnson City Press • May 27, 2018 at 6:00 AM

In Monday’s Question of the Week, we asked you if you support a new needle exchange program started by East Tennessee State University. Here are some of your responses.

Free needles will worsen abuse

I just read your article covering the ETSU needle exchange and I am outraged. Why would a university become involved in the drug business and enable users with these products when there are several clinics already in the area?

I think better use of these funds would be to provide free needles and insulin to type I diabetics or others with diseases that are not caused by their life choices. Continuing to support and enable abusers will only serve to further escalate the epidemic.

DR. RICK KIND
Johnson City

Addicted must choose care

Bad idea. Disrespectful to good citizens pouring their paycheck into "making JC great again."

We need to stop enabling illegal activity, period.

I am a 46-year-old, single, first-time homeowner. I have been on my own since I was 16. No help. No handouts, and my drive was to be independent. Enabling illegal users is NOT helping.

Open free needle exchange for cancer patients.

Dopers will not be rehabilitated unless they choose. Make them choose to go to a rehab facility.

I am addicted to nicotine. No one helps me because God helps those who help themselves.

EILEEN FARLEY
Johnson City

Just say no

Why should we pay for their addiction?

If they would stop doing drugs they would not need needles.

Don’t do drugs and live life.

JAY YOUNG
Mountain City

Go with the evidence

As a family doctor living and working here in Johnson City, I applaud and fully support the syringe exchange program launched by ETSU last week. This is a real step to combat the effects of the opioid epidemic that is currently consuming our community and it will decrease the transmission of HIV and hepatitis C. After our collective communities' hand-wringing to do something, and after our elected officials have given little more than lip service to actually provide solutions, ETSU is leading the way.

After this first wave of opioid addiction washes over our community, there will inevitably be a tidal wave of HIV and hepatitis C infections to follow, as people begin to share syringes because they do not have access to clean ones. These are our family members and neighbors who are already struggling with addiction and now will face a chronic, expensive and ultimately life-ending disease.

For those asking if this program will increase crime and drug use, the answer is a resounding "No." The research shows that these programs do not increase drug abuse or crime.

The National Institute of Health looked at the available studies of syringe exchange programs at the time and concluded "A preponder­ance of evidence shows either no change or decreased drug use," and "that there is no evidence that community norms change in favor of drug use or that more people begin using drugs."

A San Francisco study found that an SEP did not lead to increased drug use or an increase in first-time drug users. In fact, they found it actually reduced the number of injections among users!

Johnson City, we have already lost too many in our community to opiates. This is an effective and inexpensive way to save lives in our community and I fully support it.

DR. BENJAMIN DANIEL WHITFIELD
Johnson City

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