Needle Exchange


#1

I was another thread were the original topic was lost due to a war that broke out over the homosexual use of condoms. (I support the CC on this). But I got to wondering does the CC have an equally strong position on needle exchange for drug addicts. I hope they do but why no fire for this issue?


#2

I think that arguing over the homosexual use of condoms is not something the CC would ever do, since homosexual sex is already unnatural, and introducing condoms doesn’t really make a difference. It’s condom use in heterosexual sex, which is designed by God to be fertile, that goes against CC teaching.

Needle exchange is a totally different subject, and one that I’ve not given much thought to. It would depend on the circumstances to a large degree. Having known heroin addicts, and people who become addicted to opiates through prescription drugs, I can see why needle exchange would be a very moral thing to do so long as it was coupled with efforts to provide more long term assistance in kicking the habit. Heroin addiction, unlike homosexual sex, is hardly a matter of free will and decision making on the part of the addict; kicking can actually be fatal in some cases.

Peace and God bless!


#3

I’ve never thought about this and so had to look up exactly what the Church’s position on drug use was. Here’s what I could find in the CCC:
“2291 The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law.”

It seems, then, that while needle exchange is not in itself evil, it would be like handing out condoms to homosexuals. Condom use by homosexuals is not in itself evil, but a Church promotion of it would be tantamount to encouraging sin. Encouraging sinners to practice their sins more safely is still encouraging sin. The Church is not, and should not be, a medical organization. She is concerned for our moral health and should present the truth without compromise.

That said, it’s my opinion that a Catholic doctor treating a homosexual patient or drug addict unwilling to change could present the medical benefits of condom use or clean needle use without committing a moral error, as long as they also present the greater medical benefits of abstinence and detoxification. Also, they shouldn’t tell a patient that they should be using condoms or clean needles, as this implies that their behavior is all right and it is only their lack of safety precautions that is the problem, nor should a Catholic be involved in handing out condoms to anyone or clean needles to drug addicts. Merely presenting medical information and leaving the choice up to the patient seems within the realm of the medical profession, without compromising moral beliefs.

Of course, all of the above is my opinion. I think it’s in line with the teaching of the Catholic Church, but if anyone has evidence that the Church says otherwise, I’m open to it.


#4

[quote=Ghosty]I think that arguing over the homosexual use of condoms is not something the CC would ever do, since homosexual sex is already unnatural, and introducing condoms doesn’t really make a difference. It’s condom use in heterosexual sex, which is designed by God to be fertile, that goes against CC teaching.
[/quote]

While I agree with you here, I think the issue is whether or not the Catholic Church would encourage condom use among homosexuals or the practice of handing out condoms to homosexuals. I believe that such a practice would be encouraging sin.

True. In this case, administering small doses of the drug in a detox setting (I’m really not sure how detox works for the various addictive drugs) would be a “strictly therapeutic use” and morally acceptable. Providing clean needles for an addict to continue his addiction more safely is encouraging sin and not encouraging him to get help.

On a side note, you’d be surprised how non-fatal a lot of withdrawal is. Heroin withdrawal, for example, is quite uncomfortable, but not fatal. Alcohol withdrawal is surprisingly dangerous, with untreated delirium tremens having a fatality rate of, I recall, 15%. That’s one of the highest, if not the highest, of drug withdrawal fatality rates. Just a bit of interesting trivia.


#5

Well, it depends on how the heroin detox is treated. I work in emergency medicine, so I’ve been exposed to detoxs of all kinds. Alcohol detox in and of itself has a high fatality rate, to the point that many patients are simply turned away from the treatment; with alcohol you can literally become too addicted for a cure.

Heroin withdrawal, while not fatal in itself, can cause sever dehydration through vomiting and diarrhea, and that can be fatal if not taken care of. Unlike alcohol, however, the “cleaning” of the system itself is not fatal, IIRC.

Of course, I only work with the emergency cases, so I don’t know much about the actual detox settings. We have had to tell people who were trying to detox themselves from alcohol to stop, however, so you’re definately correct.

Peace and God bless!


#6

[quote=hilde the dog]I was another thread were the original topic was lost due to a war that broke out over the homosexual use of condoms. (I support the CC on this). But I got to wondering does the CC have an equally strong position on needle exchange for drug addicts. I hope they do but why no fire for this issue?
[/quote]

That’s simple - The Gay Rights Activists are far more organized than the Intravenous Drug User’s Rights Activists.

Notworthy


#7

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