Vancouver Safe Haven for Drug Addicts

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Vancouver Safe Haven for Drug Addicts

#1  Postby Federico » May 01, 2013 12:31 pm

Which is the best way to solve the problem of drug addiction has not yet been found, while, at the same time, the statistics show an increase in the number of addicts infected by HIV and/or Hepatites through the sharing of dirty needles.
In Vancouver, British Columbia, an interesting approach has taken hold, as recently reported by CNN in a documentary by Natasha Maguder, entitled Addicts shoot up in safe haven in Canada.

I quote:

.... Heroin, cocaine and amphetamines are the kind of street drugs you expect to find in the shady corners of any city, hiding away from the glare of law enforcement.

But in one small space in downtown Vancouver addicts openly inject their fixes -- as medics watch on.

This is InSite, North America's only legal safe drug injection center. A banner outside reads "InSite saves lives."

It's a facility where drug addicts can bring and use their drugs and not risk arrest.

Some of the addicts line up two or three times a day to use one of the 12 injection booths.


....Medical staff are on hand and watching closely. If needed they can help addicts find the right vein to shoot up into -- something which can be tricky for long-term users. But their main job is to step in when a user overdoses.

......Injection rooms exist in a number of countries. The first opened in Switzerland in 1986, and since then Australia, Norway, Spain, Germany and others have followed suit.

.....Of course not everyone agrees with safe injection sites.

Author, actor, and addiction counselor, David Berner, opened Canada's first ever residential treatment center for addicts back in 1967. He firmly believes that the best harm reduction strategies are centered on abstinence.


...Accepting injection rooms as a legitimate part of drug strategy is hard for Berner to comprehend.

"It's more humane to help a person stay stupid? To help a person stay enslaved? You don't need to have heroin or needles or crack pipe kits to entice people to health. You could approach people and say, "let me look at that sore. I'm a nurse. Let's clean you up a bit."


Another consideration regards fairness of access to free needles. Indeed, diabetics don't have them.
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Re: Vancouver Safe Haven for Drug Addicts

#2  Postby trubble76 » May 01, 2013 12:33 pm

Perhaps diabetics should be given free needles?

As for "shooting galleries", I have mixed feelings but if the evidence shows a harm reduction, I reckon that's good enough to give it a go.
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Re: Vancouver Safe Haven for Drug Addicts

#3  Postby Federico » May 01, 2013 2:01 pm

trubble76 wrote:Perhaps diabetics should be given free needles?

As for "shooting galleries", I have mixed feelings but if the evidence shows a harm reduction, I reckon that's good enough to give it a go.


I have mixed feelings too. Getting infected with dirty needles is not the worst that can happen, which is remaining hooked on drugs all your life and suffer the consequences of chronic, long term absorption of mind bending substances.

Perhaps tax payers money would be better spent on treating (by methadone, psychotherapy, etc) rather than by simply facilitating the addiction.

Indeed: " In the UK the Criminal Justice System has a protocol in place that requires that any individual that is arrested and is suspected of having a substance misuse problem, be offered the chance to enter a treatment program. This has had the effect of drastically reducing an area's crime rate as individuals arrested for theft in order to supply the funds for their drugs are no longer in the position of having to steal to purchase Heroin because they have been placed onto a Methadone program, quite often quicker than would have been possible had they not been arrested. This aspect of harm reduction is seen as being beneficial to both the individual and the community at large, who are then protected from the possible theft of their goods.(Wikipedia)"
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Re: Vancouver Safe Haven for Drug Addicts

#4  Postby Shrunk » May 01, 2013 2:15 pm

Federico wrote:
trubble76 wrote:Perhaps diabetics should be given free needles?

As for "shooting galleries", I have mixed feelings but if the evidence shows a harm reduction, I reckon that's good enough to give it a go.


I have mixed feelings too. Getting infected with dirty needles is not the worst that can happen, which is remaining hooked on drugs all your life and suffer the consequences of chronic, long term absorption of mind bending substances.

Perhaps tax payers money would be better spent on treating (by methadone, psychotherapy, etc) rather than by simply facilitating the addiction.


It's not an either/or proposition. Safe injection sites also offer a gateway thru which people can access those (state-sponsored) treatments. If you're just shooting up in an alley, there's much less likelihood of an addiction counsellor just happening to walk by and offering treatment.

Anyway, no point in debating philosophy and ethics when we have empirical evidence to answer the question:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 ... FA3.d02t03
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Re: Vancouver Safe Haven for Drug Addicts

#5  Postby laklak » May 01, 2013 2:43 pm

If you want to do drugs, then do drugs. Your choice. However, not my responsibility as a taxpayer to provide you with clean needles, nor to pay for your health care once you've got HIV or HepC. If you're so stupid that you 1) get addicted to heroin, meth or whatever and 2) can't figure out how to sterilize a needle then we're better off without you anyway. For those of a more liberal persuasion who feel they owe these idiots financial or other help there are plenty of charities to donate to.
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Re: Vancouver Safe Haven for Drug Addicts

#6  Postby Shrunk » May 01, 2013 2:43 pm

trubble76 wrote:Perhaps diabetics should be given free needles?


That's an argument that you often hear, but it's a vestige of when addiction was viewed as primarily a moral issue, rather than as a disorder. The idea being that addicts shouldn't "deserve" to receive free needles.

When you look at the provision of free needles as a treatment intervention that is shown to reduce the severity of the consequences of addiction, then any apparent contradiction is resolved.

That said, there are still a number of people who take the moral view. Not least in the Canadian gov't, which has attempted to close down InSite.

EDIT: This was written before laklak's post just above, which illustrates the contrary view perfectly.
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Re: Vancouver Safe Haven for Drug Addicts

#7  Postby trubble76 » May 01, 2013 2:48 pm

laklak wrote:If you want to do drugs, then do drugs. Your choice. However, not my responsibility as a taxpayer to provide you with clean needles, nor to pay for your health care once you've got HIV or HepC. If you're so stupid that you 1) get addicted to heroin, meth or whatever and 2) can't figure out how to sterilize a needle then we're better off without you anyway. For those of a more liberal persuasion who feel they owe these idiots financial or other help there are plenty of charities to donate to.


You wouldn't want tax money to fund things like this, even if it improved life for not just the addicts but for you and everyone else too? On principle? You would rather spend more on police and suchlike to clean up the mess left by addiction rather than address the problem before then? Even if the evidence points to it being better for you personally?

I'm not sure I understand your position.
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Re: Vancouver Safe Haven for Drug Addicts

#8  Postby Shrunk » May 01, 2013 2:52 pm

trubble76 wrote:You wouldn't want tax money to fund things like this, even if it improved life for not just the addicts but for you and everyone else too? On principle? You would rather spend more on police and suchlike to clean up the mess left by addiction rather than address the problem before then? Even if the evidence points to it being better for you personally?

I'm not sure I understand your position.


There's also the issue of where one draws the line. Not paying for lung cancer treatment for smokers? Diabetes treatment for people who overeat? Treatment of heart disease for people who didn't exercise four times a week? Any line seems arbitrary.
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Re: Vancouver Safe Haven for Drug Addicts

#9  Postby laklak » May 01, 2013 2:52 pm

I've no moral compunctions about drug use, I've used quite a few in my day and I'm not averse to some green now and then. Well, maybe more often then just now and then. I've also got a bit of a penchant for alcohol, as evidenced by my rather thick head this morning. However, I don't ask others to pay for my drugs or to shoulder the responsibility for my misuse of them. I personally think all drugs, prescription or otherwise, should be freely available. It's the stupidity I object to.

I realize that paying for clean needles and/or rehabilitation may be in the best interest of society at large. My personal opinions aren't necessarily the best public policy choices, as rational as I find them.
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Re: Vancouver Safe Haven for Drug Addicts

#10  Postby trubble76 » May 01, 2013 3:51 pm

Shrunk wrote:
trubble76 wrote:You wouldn't want tax money to fund things like this, even if it improved life for not just the addicts but for you and everyone else too? On principle? You would rather spend more on police and suchlike to clean up the mess left by addiction rather than address the problem before then? Even if the evidence points to it being better for you personally?

I'm not sure I understand your position.


There's also the issue of where one draws the line. Not paying for lung cancer treatment for smokers? Diabetes treatment for people who overeat? Treatment of heart disease for people who didn't exercise four times a week? Any line seems arbitrary.


If paying for lung cancer treatment for smokers reduced crime rates in my area, I'd seriously consider it, even out of pure self interest.
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Re: Vancouver Safe Haven for Drug Addicts

#11  Postby Ihavenofingerprints » May 01, 2013 4:14 pm

laklak wrote:If you want to do drugs, then do drugs. Your choice. However, not my responsibility as a taxpayer to provide you with clean needles, nor to pay for your health care once you've got HIV or HepC. If you're so stupid that you 1) get addicted to heroin, meth or whatever and 2) can't figure out how to sterilize a needle then we're better off without you anyway. For those of a more liberal persuasion who feel they owe these idiots financial or other help there are plenty of charities to donate to.


What about conducting a study that adds up the cost drug addicts have to society. Then figuring out what percentage of that cost to spend on a strategy to eliminate a lot of the problems associated with drug users.

The point I'm making is that spending a little on this issue can actually save the taxpayer a lot of money in terms of their future cost to society. Whether that future cost be their reliance on welfare, their healthcare costs, their expected criminal damages ect...

People here (australia) often object to letting asylum seekers have a welfare allowance and letting them roam around country towns, on the basis that "Australian citizens shouldn't be spending money on buying non-australians clothes/food/ect when many of our own citizens wont eat tonight". But this option is cheaper (for the taxpayer) than building some prison in the middle of some island 400km out to sea, and shipping food/water/security there - which is our current expensive system, I kid you not.
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Re: Vancouver Safe Haven for Drug Addicts

#12  Postby Shrunk » May 01, 2013 4:37 pm

trubble76 wrote:If paying for lung cancer treatment for smokers reduced crime rates in my area, I'd seriously consider it, even out of pure self interest.


Yet it has no effect whatsoever on crime rate, and still people are willing to pay for it thru their taxes. The government certainly isn't going to court to try eliminate treatment for lung cancer. Go figure. :dunno:
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