Vancouver May See Inhalation Rooms for Crack Addicts

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Vancouver advocates, who won the battle to have supervised injection sites back in 2003, have turned their attention to the city’s crack addicts. Looking for a similar program, advocates are pushing for supervised inhalation rooms, connecting addicts with treatment programs and other health services in an attempt to, above all else, stem the spread of HIV/AIDS in the population group.

Earlier in the month, a study, published October 19th 2009 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that smoking crack increases the risk of HIV infections, although the exact link has yet to be pinpointed.

The program is back by British Columbia’s Public Health Minister Perry Kendall, who called it a pressing health concern. Clearly there is an urgent need for public health programs aimed at these addicts. Recommendations included distributing safe crack kits, with glass stem and mouthpiece, lip balm and hand wipes, along with the supervised inhalation rooms.

Some cities have already begun distributing the kits.

Much like the injection sites, inhalation rooms must be associated with treatment options to be successful. The controversial harm-reduction program is aimed at engaging addicts in care, likely to lead them to the ultimate form of self-care: getting clean and living sober.

Harm-reduction subscribes to the idea that while an individual is in the throes of addiction, it is best to keep them safe in order to prevent overdose and the spread of the infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis C, that are so prevalent in this population.

Researchers sited several risk factors that may cause the link between smoking crack-cocaine and HIV, including sharing pipes and oral sex with mouth wounds.

Researchers in Vancouver followed 1,048 injection drug users over a nine-year period. All participants were HIV-negative when enrolled in the study. By the end of the period, 137 or 13.1% were HIV-positive.

Of those who tested positive, the proportion that smoke crack-cocaine daily increased to 39.7% in the final stage of the study, up from 11.6% in the first three stages—a significant increase by any measure. This led the researchers to conclude that crack smoking is somehow linked to the HIV infection.

Source: The Globe and Mail

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Sobriety Foundation

Vancouver May See Inhalation Rooms for Crack Addicts

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