Needles seen by a listener. (Knight Mike of Bothell)
We have all witnessed an uptick in needles on our streets over the last five years. One idea to help mitigate the problems associated with the addiction crisis in our region has been needle exchanges. This allows addicts to trade in their used needles for clean new ones. This is a program that started in Washington state in the 1980s to help curb the AIDS crisis, and is practiced by 39 states today.
This weekend, The Seattle Times told us about Patty Pastore in Port Angeles. She and a group of volunteers have picked up around 700 needles in her community. She is having trouble finding a way to discard the used needles.
Needle exchanges in practice do work. It is effective in its prevention of the spread of communicable diseases. However, it will not slow the amount of needles in the streets of our community without law enforcement, and without a consequence for abandoning these dangerous objects at will and committing crimes without repercussions.
The way to make a needle exchanges effective is to address the addiction and homeless crisis head on. It’s to incarcerate those that break the law, provide treatment to those who struggle with mental health, and to create a pathway to self-sufficiency through drug rehabilitation and further education.
In the lawless society that we are developing, addicts are free to use in the open, they are free to ditch the soiled needles as they please, and they are enabled to feed their habit. They are also seemingly free to assault you, stab you, and throw coffee in the face of your toddler with less than desirable consequence.
The idea of a place for addicts to get clean needles is a good one. Just remember it is useless if we are not trying to help the people who are receiving them with their addiction and mental illness.
We can’t ignore these problems anymore that are trashing the Emerald City and Evergreen State. We can’t keep putting Band-Aids on our problems. We need new leaders at all levels who aren’t afraid to tackle these issues, and who won’t virtue signal under the societal rug. We need leaders who value law enforcement, and who are committed to keeping you safe. We need to vote for responsible and accountable candidates in the primary. Ballots are due August 6. Get out and vote, Seattle.