Oct 02 2007

Vancouver’s Insite gets injection of time

Surprise, surprise those who assumed a law-and-order Conservative-led government would force Vancouver’s (and North America’s) first legal drug injection site to close at its first opportunity. Personally, I figured it was a 50-50 shot.

There are those who say that closing the facility would have amounted to mass murder, given the number of fatal drug overdoses prevented by having Insite around. It’s an odd argument, akin to saying that the elected representatives of virtually every city, regional and national government on Earth outside of Europe ought to be charged for negligent homicide.

It sort of throws out the whole idea of personal responsibility and societal norms.

Ah, well. In this case, the Conservatives have erred on the side of pragmatism, given that the experiment so far is hinting at some concrete benefits, like 800 of the 7,200 people there actually heading into rehab. Fewer people are injecting heroin right on the sidewalk (which shouldn’t be an issue in a Canadian city to begin with, but it seems like progress).

Besides, we don’t seem to have any other options on the table these days. Civil City, anyone?

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3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Vancouver’s Insite gets injection of time”

  1. on 03 Oct 2007 at 1:50 am

    I fully support safe injection sites as long as the people who use them are compelled to quit their drug abuse. I think it’s ok to use tax payers dollars to help people quit their illegal substance abuse. But if people using injection sites don’t want to quit then they shouldn’t be allowed to use them, otherwise we end up with a system of socialized drug abuse. I want to help people, but I don’t want the government to take my money and give it to crack users who have no intention of quitting. After all, the only “safe” injection is no injection.

  2. on 03 Oct 2007 at 4:38 am

    I would agree with most of what you say, but if people were compelled to give up drugs at the Insite facility, most wouldn’t go. But drug abusers who don’t necessarily sign up for rehab on their first visit have signed up on subsequent visits.

    The government already gives money to crack users in the form of monthly welfare checks (Before the enraged masses of poverty activists come at me with torches and pitchforks, I would clarify that not all welfare recipients are drug abusers). Insite is not a cash handout – it merely devotes minimal resources to ensure that Canadian citizens don’t die of drug overdoses on our public sidewalks.

  3. on 08 Oct 2007 at 6:51 am

    Forcing users who don’t want to quit to quit is a recipe for failure. Ever tried to “force” an alky who’s not ready to give up drinking? Better to use limited resources — and there should be more to accommodate those who want to quit — for those who are ready and willing to take the next step.

    As Jonathon points out, Insite does provide a point of contact with health services for users who do want to enter detox and rehab. It doesn’t just reduce the number of deaths from ODs. It also reduces infections, abscesses and other complications of injection drug use. This means fewer emergency visits, medical treatments and 9-1-1 calls, and fewer costs ($8-million a year by one peer-reviewed estimate) to the taxpayer.

    Platitudes like “the only safe injection is no injection” is fine for ivory-tower moralisers, but it doesn’t work in the real world where you can’t just wish away drug use. I severely doubt that the existence of Insite has compelled people to go out and developed a well-entrenched heroin habit. It’s there for those who are already down, and better it exists in the situation we have than not.

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