KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Seattle partners admit funding fentanyl pipes over treatment

May 24, 2023, 6:00 PM

Seattle fentanyl...

The City of Seattle is funding supplies for fentanyl and other drug addicts without any attempt to push treatment. (Photo obtained by The Jason Rantz Show)

(Photo obtained by The Jason Rantz Show)

The City of Seattle is funding supplies for fentanyl and other drug addicts without any attempt to push treatment.

During a council committee hearing this week, Seattle City Councilwoman Sara Nelson questioned a group of public health workers that the city funds to tackle the fentanyl crisis. But as the fatal overdoses soar to historic highs, the city (and King County) are not pushing treatment for addicts. Instead, they’re using a “harm reduction” model that seeks to make drug use “safer” by handing out needles, pipes, and other tools to enable the addict to continue abusing drugs. And they’re now acknowledging treatment is not part of their goals.

“I would like to know what is the harm that’s being reduced by the distribution of supplies that simply help people to use drugs?” Nelson asked the panel of harm reduction advocates. She wanted to know what is seen as a success.

Brad Feingold, a strategic advisor for Public Health Seattle-King County, argued that handing out smoking supplies ends up bringing addicts in for “treatment,” which he said includes connecting them with case managers. Nelson asked how many are coming in for that purpose, but Feingold could not provide an answer.

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Seattle isn’t trying to offer treatment for fentanyl

Amber Tejada with the Hepatitis Education Project responded, then added that it’s not about getting addicts off their drugs. They seek to “facilitate and champion” drug use under the belief that addicts should be free to continue use.

“I know it can be a little controversial, but one of the key tenets of harm reduction, that I see, is that we want to be able to facilitate and champion autonomy of people who use drugs,” Tejada said. “And so, you know, there are folks who don’t want to stop using drugs. There are folks for whom abstinence is not something by which they measure their success in life.”

In other words, the city is actively funding programs that help addicts continue to illegally consume drugs that will ultimately kill them. But Tejada pretends this is all safe.

“So, you know, like Brad [Feingold] said, people come in, they get safer smoking supplies,” she continued. “They don’t have to inject if they’re smoking. Our friends at People’s Harm Reduction Alliance invented a whole new pipe so that people could smoke and not inject, which is proven to be safer method of using drugs. So, I mean, abstinence is great if that’s something that you have planned for you. But sometimes people are just going to use drugs and it’s not going to lead to abstinence. And I think our mission and I think what we’ve been able to do really successfully with this program is to show that people can use drugs safely.”

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Shocking but not surprising

The revelation that the city is actively funding illicit substance abuse is not surprising, even if it is shocking to hear it be admitted. The city has embraced “harm reduction” strategies for years, pouring taxpayer dollars into drug paraphernalia. Their end goal will be to hand out “safe” drugs, too. We would never endlessly provide free car service for alcoholics without pushing treatment. So why are we doing it with drug addicts?

It’s also delusional to pretend this approach has been successful.

The city and county is in the middle of an historic rise in overdose deaths, with fentanyl the leading cause. There have already been 545 fatal overdoses through May 24. The county is on pace to exceed last year’s 1,000 overdoses, which exceeded the previous year’s record high 709. Since 2018, when the county stopped charging for personal possession of illicit drugs, fatal overdoses rose 171%. This is successful?

The drug crisis isn’t merely killing people, either. It’s a leading cause of the explosion of chronic homelessness and crimes like retail theft and home and car break-ins.

“Harm reduction” does not work without treatment, unless you redefine success. And when it comes to fentanyl and other illicit and deadly substances, the city of Seattle has redefined success to cover handing out drug supplies, even if it kills addicts. And it’s all being funded with tax dollars.

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Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Seattle partners admit funding fentanyl pipes over treatment