Re: “Shoot up in safety? Overdoses prompt a radical approach” (Page A1, May 9):

Allowing legal, medically supervised heroin injection locations is not an insane idea. Neither interdiction, prosecution nor punishment have worked in decreasing heroin use. The drug is readily accessible, relatively cheap and, by users’ accounts, better quality.

Whether addicted individuals use heroin because prescribed alternatives are no longer as available or because it is a way to self-medicate the pain brought on by unwelcome feelings, life conditions or alienation, drug abuse (including alcoholism) sadly becomes an option for dealing with these conditions.

If this, then, is the reality of our current scourge, the question remains: What can be done? The first obvious answer is access to treatment and recovery approaches that stress non-judgmental support.

For individuals who are lost in their addiction, and are either not ready to enter treatment or choose to self-medicate, why can’t we look at providing safe locations where these folks can use their drug with some modicum of oversight connected with recovery counseling and support? We know that a similar approach has worked in Amsterdam for many years.

Getting addiction out of the criminal justice system and into the (public) health system allows us to align with concepts like treatment and drug replacement alternatives, not punishment.

Of course, any illegal activity in the purchase of said drugs is a matter of prosecution. That is, if theft provides the drug money, the best consequence would be restitution and, hopefully, amends to the victim.

Larry Hames

South Portland