Wednesday, May 23, 2018

In Defense of Harm Reduction

This isn't a short story post or anything creative. This is about my morning.

I was invited to appear in a panel presentation this morning for an audience of approximately 200 folks. This was a criminal justice summit where the panelist were to be provided with questions around the current state of San Francisco's treatment landscape. I knew going in, it would be a tough crowd. I expected an audience of mostly probation officers and a few service providers. Instead, the place was packed to the walls with mainly service providers paid through local and state programs to work with people who use drugs and have criminal justice involvement. I expected a tough crowd. I was shocked by what I heard.

The official policy of San Francisco is HARM REDUCTION. It has been for close to two decades. Yet, I heard one provider say "we can't work with people until they are allllll the way clean" and another say extremely disparaging things about MAT while referring to the population as "dope fiends". Methadone apparently doesn't work because it didn't work for him. Insert eye roll here. Then, the idea that clients are taken advantage of sexually by treatment staff was dismissed. Readers, I was horrified. I am not exaggerating when I say, it took everything in my soul not to throw a chair across the fucking room. Everyone thinks I'm nice but trust me when I say, I was THIS close from saying some things that could have risked my job. Oh, I did mention they invited ME to this shit show.

I held my own. My colleague held his own. We got in facts over opinions under extremely challenging circumstances yet this is 2018- why are we having this conversation? Personal opinions should not dictate how clients are treated. I am tried and I am frustrated. Most of all, I am disappointment so much work needs to be done on my home court.

Excuse typos.

No comments:

Post a Comment