"...explains the concept of harm reduction as a crucial component of a city's response to the drug crisis. It tells the story of a grassroots group of addicts in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside who waged a political street fight for two decades to transform how the city treats its most marginalized citizens. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, this group of residents from Canada's poorest neighbourhood organized themselves in response to a growing number of overdose deaths and demanded that addicts be given the same rights as any other citizen; against all odds, they eventually won. But just as their battle came to an end, fentanyl arrived and opioid deaths across North America reached an all-time high. It's prompted many to rethink the war on drugs. Public opinion has slowly begun to turn against prohibition, and policy-makers are finally beginning to look at addiction as a health issue as opposed to one for the criminal justice system. The previous epidemic in Vancouver sparked government action. Twenty years later, as the same pattern plays out in other cities, there is much that advocates for reform can learn from Vancouver's experience..."-- publisher.
Contents: Toledo, Ohio -- Hundred block rock -- A chance encounter -- Hotel of last resort -- Rat park -- Growing up radical -- Back alley -- Miami, Florida -- The killing field -- A drug-users union -- Out of harm's way -- From housing to harm reduction -- Childhood trauma and the science of addiction -- Raleigh, North Carolina -- A drug dealer finds activism -- Taking the fight to city hall -- Building allies -- Rewriting the brain for addiction -- The Vancouver agreement -- Boston, Massachusetts -- The hair salon -- Establishing Insite -- Opening day -- Consequences -- Seattle, Washington -- Drug user with a lawyer -- Protests across Canada -- Court battle -- Crossing a line -- Sacramento, California -- Prescription heroin -- "The assassination" -- Fentanyl arrives.
Review: "Noted critic, novelist and essayist Sheed recounts his recovery from three major illnesses in this highly personal, torturous, oddly exhilarating chronicle. The first illness, polio, struck in 1945 when he was 14. With unbridled optimism, Sheed struggled for years with a disease that ``seemed much more like a vacation from the pains of growing up than an addition to them.'' The book's centerpiece, his plunge into depression triggered by addiction to sleeping pills and alcohol in his mid-50s, unfolds a nightmare of panic attacks, manic highs, proliferating phobias and suicidal dementia. Sheed found scant relief through a stay in a sanatorium, antidepressants or lithium, on all of which he heaps scorn. His recovery seemed to follow its own logic and inner mechanisms of healing. Diagnosed with cancer in 1991, he underwent operations of the tongue and neck, as well as radiation treatments, a two-year ordeal he describes with wit and gallantry." -- Reed Elsevier Inc.