The war against drug abuse especially cocaine is as intricate as the drug world itself and it has turned out to be very expensive, enduring and infective in terms of policies considered all over the world. To effectively deal with harm associated with cocaine abuse, an analysis of this problem should be done regarding its mission statement and current achievement. The policy also needs to be examined to determine their consequences and their effectiveness towards harm reduction.
In this context, cocaine harm reduction refers to the programs, practices and policies employed to ease the effects of this psychoactive addictive drug in individuals. Cocaine is one of the most commonly abused illegal drugs, but it has been overlooked since the advent of HIV because of the nature of transmission. The use of unsafe injections has made the existing illegal drug mode of administering complicated (Fraser & Moore, 2011).
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Without proper procedures, drug users find themselves sharing these instruments to inject drugs directly to their bloodstream, oblivious of transmitting communicable diseases. Harm prevention should complement the approaches to the overall substance consumption. Ignorance of the part of the user and the wrong approach taken by the government has rendered harm reduction futile.
The justice system recognizes the user as a criminal, but it fails to address the illegal supply chain versus demand. People do not just find themselves addicted, there are social aspects that are the major contributors to the trends and must be addressed early enough. From the business point of view, drug traffickers wield a lot of financial muscles and are known to buy their freedom from the justice structures, thus making it futile to tackle the actual harm reduction (Fraser & Moore, 2011).
Harm reduction initiative creates positive awareness about the drug use effects while at the same time giving drug adorers the reason to start abusing them. Most illegal drug abusers take the available information positively and misuse the information to suit their personal interests through exceeding dosage. The media’s non-restriction program that concerns a person who watches and the program watched is partly to blame as many people take celebrities they see on T.V as their role models, hence developing the traits inclined towards these perceived heroes and heroines.
When cocaine is used as a prescription drug it is a positive approach, but once it is abused, it turns to be an illegal drug. Most available harm reduction policies and laws are not those about the quantities or dosage for those who take this drug. Lack of qualified personnel in dispensing cocaine as a positive drug has led to harm reduction efforts that are currently being unachievable (Lyman, 2011).
An effective harm reduction policy should seek to address the issue through a strong commitment to public health and human rights. It should, on the other hand, bring various stakeholders such as policymakers, politicians, targeted communities, front-line workers, researchers and the users on board. Taking on board a single stakeholder worsens the situation and the harm continues unabated to the users and their families (Lyman, 2011).
A harm reduction plan should address and identify causes and risks, specific harms, causes and decisions on the appropriate assessment of the problem and actions to be taken. A tailor-made solution will only be arrived at if policymakers and judicial systems consider the root cause of cocaine use and abuse, trying to understand why addicts use drugs. They should also address the vulnerability in terms of incarceration of gender and age. Cocaine in its drug form is readily available and affordable and there is no way to negate the fact that it can be used by anyone, irrespective of their social status and financial position (Lyman, 2011).
Harm reduction measures include those that are aimed at impaired driving prevention, creation of conducive environment for peer support groups programs. A well laid down and healthy guaranteed needle distribution programs, substitution therapies to help those positively yearning to change from drug harm induced situations, well-structured outreach, education facilities, well supervised and equipped consumption facilities, accessible by all who are affected.
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Just like in any other initiative, the endeavor to reduce the effects of drugs has its own opponents and supporters. Harm reduction efforts are wholly and freely supported by The United Nations through the general assembly session (UNGASS) 2001 declaration and other partner bodies, including UNAIDS and UNODC. This has also been featured in the UN Office on Drugs and Crime report in the 2004 world drug report.
On the other hand, a report published in February 2007 by the Open Society Institute-Close to Reason put the blame on the International Narcotics Bureau which is funded by the UN to monitor compliance with the UN compliance with drug convention on its effort to block evidence, based on issues to address injecting drug users who suffer from HIV and AIDs. This is a clear indication of there are those who are opposed to the initiative but are still in the system, making it impossible to built on the gains achieved so far.
The social justice systems in many cases have also been indecisive in criminalizing drug use, thus creating the perception that if one does drug, they automatically pass for criminals. The hide and seek, coupled with the negativity that the society associates with substance abuse act as an opposing catalyst which has made harm reduction from the grassroots a non-starter venture.
Some of the advantages of harm reduction include proper overdose reduction and early death for users. Once proper policies are formulated, death rates that result from illegal drug usage are minimized. On the other hand, sensitization and awareness creation lead to disease reduction, especially those like HIV and hepatitis. There have been fewer cases reported on illegal drug usage in public places and public sharing of needles and injection frequencies.
Levels on unemployment have been reduced over the years, leading to few cases of crime and there is increased activity around creating awareness to treatment programs. Health institutions and social service increased activities have also influenced the rehabilitation of addicts. Lastly, there is increased political goodwill in harm reduction and drug-related accidents and injuries due to the fact that poor judgment under the influence of drugs has also gone down (Lyman, 2011).
Harm reduction has its disadvantages because an increased demand and the supply chains have become more complex with it. Drug business has become a way of life in some quarters and the peddlers have become protected by policymakers, politicians and judicial systems making the illicit trade thrive unabated.
Illegal drug users arrive at poor judgments and this makes harm reduction efforts futile, given that once addicted, one is nearly unable to quit, so that it becomes a problem. Private health care givers are cashing in on the situation and they are not concerned with the prevention but cure; they perceive the situation as a means to make money and not a way to help those suffering from drug abuse.
It is clear therefore that this approach has brought two divergent implications. One is that it has partly solved the harm reduction problem by allowing all stakeholders to pool resources together towards a common goal. The root cause of the problem has been identified and positively being implemented, albeit resistance from the “illegal beneficiaries” (Fraser& Moore, 2011). Most users understand the benefits of harm reduction to their health but lack the goodwill to quit or lack proper substitutes to drugs. There is also the fear and resistance to change; quitting cocaine abuse leads to adverse withdrawal complication and not many people are willing to go through the rehabilitation process.
Secondly, the awareness, created around cocaine as an illegal drug, has made adorers “try it” resulting in addiction. There are external and powerful forces that control the illegal drug business and are less concerned about drug harm reduction policies; they are spending billions of dollars for their business to thrive against all odds (Fish, 2005). Any efforts to ensure these policies are implemented are usually shot down from the highest levels of government and institutions charged with the implementation of the same.
To effectively reduce the harm caused by this drug, all nations of the world should come together and plan on how the producers can be compensated, to advice to engage in other healthy business rather than drug spreading. The consumer nations, which bear the highest burden of the substance abuser, crime, rehabilitation, treatment and correction, should commit these funds to the producer as compensation ( Fraser& Moore,2011). If the two extremes are brought together, harm reduction would be a thing of the past as the existing drug stocks will immediately be exhausted. This though might take a lot of time spent on negotiations with the many under the table integrity dealings, associated with drugs and the drug world (Fraser & Moore, 2011).
It is, therefore, clear that there are those who are working hard to make drug harm reduction a success, while others are working hard to maintain the status quo to make their ends meet at the expense of the cocaine users and addicts (Fish, 2005). This means that drug harm reduction initiatives are benefiting some people in the society while it is increasing the levels of poverty. On the other hand, unless the supply and demand chain is addressed properly, the problem will never be done away and the resources will be put to a project which will never take off.