Home CommentaryOpinions Some insights into Insite: the benefits of a safe injection facility

Some insights into Insite: the benefits of a safe injection facility

by The Concordian October 18, 2011
Some insights into Insite: the benefits of a safe injection facility

While it’s true that drugs are a dirty business, they are an unfortunate fact of life throughout much of the world. I remember seeing a homeless man smoking crack on the steps of a church near Berri-UQAM metro about ten years ago. It was shocking to a naive 20-year-old, and I won’t share some of the stupid snap judgements I made. But I came to understand that some people have a problem with substance abuse and that there is no quick fix.
The default reaction for many people is that hard drug abusers are inherently bad and should be tossed in jail. The thought that these people should have any kind of comfort when they consume hard drugs, not to mention support, becomes appalling. It’s against the law, people will say. Or they truck out the old canard that if drugs were legal and/or tolerated, people would be more likely to use them. First, these people need to grow the hell up. Unpleasant things happen all the time in the world, and their lives would probably be a lot happier if they learned to accept that. Second, their arguments fly in the face of fact.
The Insite clinic in Vancouver has been a test-bed for research into the pros and cons of safe injection sites. They provide sterilized hypodermic needles and have nurses on site to help users.
Over 20 peer-reviewed scientific journals, including such heavy-hitters as the New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet, have come out in favour of the site. They noted that the transmission of blood-borne diseases like hepatitis C and HIV diminished significantly. There were over 453 overdoses at the clinic, but zero deaths due to the presence of trained medical professionals.
If that wasn’t enough, a report commissioned by the RCMP came out in favour of the site. Yes, that RCMP, the first one that came to your mind; the cops with the red uniforms were initially in favour of a safe heroin injection site. They withdrew their support for Insite at the last second without a reason. Dark rumours of political pressure continue to swirl, but I’m not a gossip columnist. Much.
The link between poverty and criminality is a strong correlation. It doesn’t mean that poor people are destined to be junkies, nor that the rich are immune from using hard drugs. It does, however, mean that incidents of hard drug use will go up in times of economic stress. That makes the necessity of a clinic like Insite all the more pressing.
Montreal is set to get its own safe injection site next year and it’s about time. The Harper government, with its recent plan to take a tough law-and-order stance, is missing the point entirely. It is dead set against all safe injection sites and would rather stiffen jail sentences than do something useful.
Do you want to lower crime rates? Make social programs that empower individuals, especially children? You want to keep kids off drugs? Educate them. Law enforcement is reactive rather than pro-active. It’s not a solution. Neither is slashing budgets for education and social programs.
If the Conservatives want law and order, what better way than by building an educated, empowered citizenry? Oh right, it takes time, effort and willpower to do that. Sorry, my bad.

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1 comment

Curt March 25, 2013 - 10:01

I’m sorry, but I think you are missing the bigger picture here. What is the problem here……dirty needles and overdosing or the drug use itself? This issue is on the same page as legalizing marijuana or prostitution. Why are we protecting something that we don’t want to condone in the first place? You’re missing the point……


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