Safe Injection Sites Canada Wide: A Solution to Tragic Overdoses, But More Needs to Be Done

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Safe injection sites are, to say the least, politically controversial. We have one in Vancouver, but the previous government made efforts to shut it down, and when the Supreme Court prevented this, imposed very strict guidelines that many believe would prevent other such sites from opening across the country. We have a new government now, and during the election the Liberal party seemed in favor of more sites like the one in Vancouver opening in various cities across Canada. For the sake of this blog post, I will offer my own opinion on the matter and you can make of it what you’d like.

Insite in Vancouver offers a safe place for addicts to take drugs while being monitored by medical professionals. This is a good idea to prevent the spread of diseases that can be contracted by sharing of drug paraphernalia, and despite thousands of visits to the site, there have been no deaths related to overdose because of quick intervention by staff. Many famous medical journals have praised Insite for the reduction in overdose deaths in the area, but the biggest question I have about the possibility of opening more centers is whether the same amount of money should go towards these sites. Millions of dollars have gone into Insite, much of it from the B.C. government, and I am not going to say it was a bad idea because it wasn’t. That money saved hundreds of lives. My concern about the money is that it could be money put into other measures to prevent drug use. Not to mention, more money could be invested by the government to build more treatment centers, hire addiction specialists and counselors, and work towards helping many of the people who would frequent new safe injection sites across Canada.

When politics gets involved, it becomes very hard to tell how much good is being done. So I will flat out say that I don’t know whether or not injection sites will lead to a better solution, but I do feel that in the meantime Insite seems to have helped a large number of people and that cannot be ignored. The problem lies with how many so called “hopeless cases” there are, and I don’t like using that term, but for purposes of clarity let’s use it. Insite is an excellent facility for people that cannot receive help to end their cycle of addiction, or have a seveInsite_(logo)re psychiatric condition that has lead to their extensive use of drugs, but – and yes there’s a but – in my experience blogging about addiction for over two years now, I have not yet come across any statistic that shows an enormous number of “hopeless cases”. Therefore, I want to know if other cities in Canada open similar safe injection sites, are we offering a temporary and expensive solution to a lot of people who could otherwise benefit from resources being placed elsewhere in order to give them the services they need to end their addiction? Maybe, but again, it’s a tricky issue to say the least.

Here’s the problem we should all think about before we make up our minds about a very real and important issue: Can safe injection sites lead to lasting health and sobriety, and if not should we open more sites as an emergency solution to stop the very preventable deaths? Or, should we meet somewhere in the middle and open more facilities similar to Insite while we invest in a far more effective prevention and treatment strategy that will eventually drastically reduce the number of people who use the site in Vancouver and the potential sites that could open up across Canada?

If you want my ignorant opinion on the matter, I say we meet in the middle. Addiction for many people is a life-long struggle, and no one deserves to die because of overdoses, so I applaud the hard work the medical professionals at Insite are doing. On the other hand, it is my belief that more needs to be done to help the people that can be helped but may not realize it. It is my understanding that Insite offers counseling and treatment information, which is fantastic, but before more sites open across Canada I think we have a duty to those affected by addiction to force the government’s hand and demand that more efforts be made to help those, who would otherwise use similar safe injection sites, receive the care, resources and professional guidance they need and deserve to make an attempt to end their cycle of addiction for good.

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Sobriety Foundation

Safe Injection Sites Canada Wide: A Solution to Tragic Overdoses, But More Needs to Be Done

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