Here's the latest smack on taxpayers.
The city spent $32,000 on 70,000 fliers that tell you how to shoot heroin, complete with detailed tips on prepping the dope and injecting it into your arm.
The Health Department handout has outraged New York's top drug prosecutors and abuse experts.
"It's basically step-by- step instruction on how to inject a poison," said John Gilbride, who heads the Drug Enforcement Administration's New York office.
"It's sick," said City Council member Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens)
"Foolish," said Columbia University drug researcher and treatment expert Dr. Herbert Kleber.
The 16-page pamphlet features seven comics-like illustrations and offers dope fiends such useful advice as "Warm your body (jump up and down) to show your veins," and "Find the vein before you try to inject."
It even encourages addicts to keep jabbing if their needles miss the mark.
"If you don't 'register,' pull out and try again," it says.
The brochure sends the wrong message about the dangers of the drug, experts said.
"It concerns me that the city would produce a how-to on using drugs," Gilbride said. "Heroin is extremely potent. You may only get the chance to use it once. To suggest there is a method of using that alleviates the dangers, that's very disturbing."
Vallone, who chairs the council's public safety committee, vowed to shut down the distribution of the pamphlet.
"This is a tremendous misuse of city funds, and I'm going to see what I can do to stop it. It sends a message to our youth: give it a try," he fumed.
Gilbride and city drug czar Bridget Brennan noted that the manual does have some sound advice. It stresses the importance of kicking the habit, seeking professional help and not sharing needles.
But it also spells out how junkies should ready their fix and the best ways to shoot it -- a bad idea when more New York teens than ever are trying heroin, they said.
"What we do not want to do is suggest that there's anything safe about shooting up narcotics," said Brennan, the city's special narcotics prosecutor. "No matter how many times you wash your hands or how clean the needle is, it's still poison that you're putting in your veins."
The guidebook, called "Take Charge, Take Care," has sections on overdosing, testing for HIV and hepatitis -- and how to "prepare drugs carefully" and "how to take care of your veins."
Kleber, a psychiatry professor, said the brochure could help save lives but that it was "foolish" for the city to include tips on how to shoot up.
The Health Department defended its brochure, saying it was helpful and necessary, and has been distributed only to addicts or those at risk of becoming abusers.
"Our goal is to promote health and save lives with this information," said Daliah Heller, assistant commissioner for the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention, Care and Treatment.
Asked why the handout tells people how to shoot up, Heller said, "From a health perspective, there is a less harmful way to inject yourself."
The flier fails to identify the city agency as its creator and distributor, and mentions only a group called LifeNet and the city's 311 help line as call-in resources to addicts.
LifeNet is run by the nonprofit Mental Health Association of New York City, which is heavily funded by the city.
"It's certainly not ours," said association spokeswoman Beth Garcia.
By BRAD HAMILTON
January 3, 2010
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