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Documentary - Toughing It Out - CBC Newsworld June 7 2008

Toughing It Out - CBC Newsworld June 7 2008
Toughing It Out
CBC The Passionate Eye
June 7 2008 10:00 P.M.

Toughing It Out applies to both the addicts in and the viewer of this CBC Newsworld documentary. The logical fallacies in Toughing It Out and the film maker's self-serving moments make it hard to buy the main point.

This The Passionate Eye program looks at heroin addiction and a new program, NAOMI.

NAOMI is a year-long trial where addicts are given medical heroin, needles, etc. so as to take away their need to roam the streets looking for their next dollar and next hit. This is better than a methadone program and should allow them to have a more normal life and reintegrate "normal" society.

It sounds like a good idea.

Unfortunately, many of the points presented in Toughing It Out are false or suspect.

For example, a heroin addict in the NAOMI program says since tobacco and alcohol are legal, heroin should be legal because heroin kills less people per year than either smokes or booze.

The fact is there are far more people who imbibe and smoke than people who shoot up.

Another, more serious claim, is a drug addict causes 47 thousand dollars in societal costs but the program only costs 6 thousand per. You have to wonder if the six thousand is the cost of the medical heroin alone or if it includes the staff, the building, the follow-up, the welfare program the addict is now eligible for since he / she is off the streets, etc.

The documentary does make it clear NAOMI is a well-organized, structured, socially safe support system. The point that treating drug abusers is socially less expensive than not treating them makes sense if not dollar sense as presented here.

What really enraged me was the scene where Jane, an addict, asks the film maker if they can wrap up because she is not feeling well. Film maker Helene Pichette says "Yeah, sure" and then keeps rolling. The betrayal is one thing, the self-serving scene where the documentarist shows herself giving Jane a hug is another.

A viewer then automatically questions if the little plastic gun on lying on the ground during one addict's interview was not planted there for a cool shot, and then questions everything else.

The closing moment with Jane not only seems staged, it is.

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