I can't find the first article, but I really wanted to talk about this: safe injection sites. This is a big deal right now in Vancouver, and I want to follow the issue and see what happens.
Basically, right now in Vancouver there's a place where people can go to inject drugs (heroin mostly I would think) with clean needles and medical staff. This is actually against the law in Canada, but they've been able to get out of it for now. Things are catching up with them though, and people are saying that this is a really bad practice and is just enabling people.
Very honestly, I'm not sure what I think. I often struggle with whether the things I do are enabling or helpful. This would be classified harm reduction, and I'm all for harm reduction. Also, is it really that different then just handing out clean needles? I don't know about other countries, or even other cities really, but where I live, it's really easy to get clean needles; they'll even bring them to your house.
The argument in favour of this, is that people are going to use drugs anyway. No matter what we do, they'll find a way to get those drugs into their blood stream. By giving people medical supervision, they're less likely to die. This gives them more time to make changes in their life, and it helps prevent the spread of disease which costs our health care system tons of money anyway. Why treat disease when you can prevent it?
Against supervised injection sites is the enabling argument. Giving people a safe place to do it encourages drug use. It's saying "as Canadians we think this is okay", do we want to send that message? This is medical professionals harming people. They're looking at people using illegal drugs, watching them inject themselves, and letting them do it. How can this be ethical?
I'm definitely not on the against side, I'm just not quite sure I'm on the for side. What's great about this place in Vancouver is that it has detox and transitional housing in the same building. That makes it a great place of outreach where medical staff can talk to people about quitting and getting clean. Seeing someone everyday also gives medical staff an opportunity to notice if people are getting sick and maybe catch things like TB earlier. It also gives access to referrals to things like methadone clinics.
I talked to a couple of my clients about needles, but no one was interested in saying to much. Most of the ones I work with are snorting and smoking cocaine/crack, we really don't see a lot of heroin users. Heroin users go to the medical detox at the hospital and get on methadone programs. People inject Ts and Rs, (twalin and ritalin) though, but apparently clean needles are pretty easy to get, so it seems to be a bit of a non issue.
Intersting thing to think about, and something I'm hoping to talk more to my clients about in the future.