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As I See It

We’re helping pay for those dirty needles turning up on playgrounds



It has become an epidemic in La Crosse. The use of heroin has skyrocketed in our community. We have witnessed that with an alarming number of heroin overdoses in our community. And we have witnessed it with the increasing number of used hypodermic needles being found in our playgrounds, parks and alleys. Those dirty needles are posing a risk to children and others in our community. One reason all these needles are being discarded by heroin junkies is that they are so readily available. Free needles, and more, are being distributed, free of charge an anonymously, by the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin. The idea is to keep heroin users from putting themselves or others at risk by reusing dirty needles. La Crosse police are rightly frustrated, and alarmed, at how easy we are making it for people to shoot up. The kits that contain those free clean needles also contain tools for mixing, cooking and injecting the drug. They even come with instructions for injecting properly. And condoms. Police say the kit has everything but the heroin. And it turns out we are helping to pay for this free needle giveaway. About 20% of the AIDS Resource Center’s budget comes from city, county and state tax money. Some changes are needed in the way this distribution system works. Perhaps they should demand that before anyone gets a clean needle, they return a dirty one. That wouldn’t help end this epidemic, but at least it would help keep our playgrounds cleaner and safer.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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