The Corner

Ah Yes, If Only It Were Legal…

We’re not going to rehash (no pun intended) the whole drug war thing today (NR’s agin’ it, I’m fer it, though I’m in favor of decriminalizing pot). But this LA Times story strikes me as worth reading. Here’s the opener:

OSLO — She said she only smoked heroin, but there were needle bruises on her neck. She said she loved her boyfriend, but she stood on a corner and offered herself to others. She said she was a girl, but then remembered she had become a woman. She said she wanted to quit, but she knew she wouldn’t.

Across town in a brick chapel, Father Jon Atle Wetaas lighted three votive candles. “These are for peace and reflection,” the priest said. “We never know what we’ll meet out there.” Then he and a nurse loaded a camper with clean needles, medicine and coffee and drove the streets searching for some of the estimated 5,000 to 7,000 heroin addicts that shadow this Norwegian port city.

They came upon the woman on the corner, a shattered 18-year-old desperately looking to fill her empty syringe. Her name was Katrin Nygard Helgeland.

“I try to quit,” she said, her face pale in the autumn half-light. “I get depressed, and I run away inside myself.”

Clean and tidy Oslo, the capital of a nation with one of the highest standards of living and some of the best social programs in the world, is one of Europe’s heroin havens. Three years ago, it recorded more overdoses than any other major European city. Now, after a two-year decline in drug deaths — in part because of the war in Afghanistan, which interrupted the production and distribution of heroin — the number of overdoses is rising.


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