Heroin in Portland, Oregon
Posted July 17, 2005on:
Supposedly Portland is the heroin “capitol” of the west, attracting scores of disenfranchised youth to the streets as some 1,500 kids were on the streets homeless, looking to score, using sex to score, whatever. This information according to a news program aired on MSNBC. Well not everyone is happy about the implication, Blue Oregon mentioned that the story appearing on MSNBC was originally aired back in 2001.
Well, ok, Blue Oregon is a site for “progressive Oregonians”. I’m a little confused. Either MSNBC is suggesting that Portland still has a heroin problem and Blue Oregon and other ‘progressives’ have a problem with that or that problem still does exist and no one wants to talk about it. So I tried some other sites, like the Portland Independent Media Center. A search on heroin there brought up 284 hits, some of which dealt with the idea that Afghanistan is the leading producer of heroin, and rumors about who’s used it.
Well whatever. Until I ran across this piece on MSNBC.com via PDXGUIDE, a local source to News in Portland about the corner of “Southeast Sixth Avenue and Ankeny Street”. But that piece is about the idea that migrant Hispanic workers are dealing the drug, not about the white kids that run away from home because of abuse, and end up taking it. The only interesting figures there were that “heroin continues to haunt Portland, killing 94 users last year and contributing to prostitution, serial shoplifting and public health risks from dirty needles”.
Well that’s interesting, because MSNBC applauded them for their clean needle program which helped cut down on instances of sexually transmitted diseases and Hepatitis. That was 4 years ago though. And, according to the aforementioned article, the city is more worried about meth than it is heroin. Well ok but what city isn’t a major hub for methamphetamine these days, particularly when it is so easy to make.
Portland’s problem isn’t drugs, despite suggestions that it has the highest rate of death by overdose among heroin users. It isn’t the scores of homeless adolescents that live and die on its streets, some out of drug usage, some out of violence that occurs between different factions of its homeless population. It is the same indifference amongst individuals of different socioeconomic sectors that occurs in all cities. The same people that some individuals embrace, other see as a scourge on their city that needs to be removed. Then again, if the city has helped homeless kids on their streets from other cities out west that found themselves in Portland because the area embraced them, through one of their many social programs, perhaps that is one step in the right direction other cities should take. We can’t throw away our youth, regardless of how addicted, dirty, or disaffected they are.
It doesn’t matter whether or not they are the upstanding and productive members of the community we would like them to be, or a complete and total embarrassment to anything or anyone that is “right”, they still need our love and support. I don’t know about heroin in Portland, or clean needles. I guess that all depends on who you ask, but I do know that it is a symptom of a larger problem, one that exists everywhere.