In an ally, doorway, or behind a telephone pole, people crouch to inject their deadly dose of cocaine, heroin, and other drugs, oblivious to the daytime traffic on a nearby street. This is the day to day life of the drug users in downtown Vancouver; do you think there is nothing that can be done? Well, there is. Safe injections sites are a clean, safe, supervised environment where drug users can inject their own drugs off the streets, and connect to addiction, health and community services. InSite is the first and only supervised injection site in North America (InSite for Community Safety).
InSite is located at 139 East Hastings Street, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. More safe injection sites will greatly reduce overdose fatalities, notably reduce public injections, improving public order, and reduce the transmission of blood-borne infections. The number of safe injection sites in the Lower Mainland must increase immediately. A rise in the number of safe injection sites in the Lower Mainland will greatly reduce overdose fatalities. In the seven years that InSite has been open, no overdoses in the facility have been fatal.
Of the approximately 11,207 users, “there have been a large number of overdoses within the Safe Injection Facility, and it is noteworthy that none of these overdoses resulted in a fatality” (Kerr et al. ). The average amount of overdose deaths has dramatically dropped from approximately 200/year in the years before InSite to approximately 35/year over the last five years. This means that with InSite being open less people have died from overdoses and more people are getting help when they do overdose. This in turn makes it safer for people who feel they need drugs to survive.
Drug users who use safe injection sites for seventy-five percent or more of their injections are less likely to overdose. This is because of increased safety measures and drug use education at InSite. Having more Safe Injection Sites in the Lower Mainland would mean that the number of overdose deaths would drop. More safe injection sites in the Lower Mainland would notably reduce public injections and improve public order. Over the course of fourteen weeks (four weeks before opening InSite and ten weeks after) the amount of publicly discarded syringes in the Lower Mainland, dropped by approximately five percent.
Researchers say: We found significant reductions in public injection drug use, publicly discarded syringes and injection-related litter after the opening of the medically supervised safer injecting facility in Vancouver (E. Wood et al. ). This is amazing; it means that the downtown eastside will be cleaner and nicer to be in. Over the same fourteen weeks the amount of public injections in the Lower Mainland dropped by approximately fourteen percent. Less public injections mean less people injecting in dirty, unsafe areas.
It also means lots of drug users are taking advantage of the safe injection site, which in turn makes it safer for them. Finally, in those same fourteen weeks the amount of injection evidence, including littler and trading, in the Lower Mainland dropped by approximately eighteen percent. Having less injection evidence will improve public order and make it more enjoyable to be in downtown. By increasing the amount of safe injection sites in the Lower Mainland, the transmission of blood-borne infections will drop.
Only five percent of frequent safe injection site users borrowed a syringe in the last six months, compared to the fourteen percent of infrequent users. This means the more frequent safe injection site users there are, the less syringe sharing there is, meaning less transmission of blood-borne diseases. It is encouraging to know “the fact that no instances of syringe lending or borrowing were observed among individuals who reported performing all injections within the safe injection site… ” (M. W. Tyndall et al. ).
Drug users that go to InSite for their injections are less likely to lend a syringe to someone else. Ninety-four percent of frequent safe injection site users refused to lend out a syringe in the last six months compared to the eighty-nine percent of infrequent users. This is because InSite users benefit from safer injecting education. Approximately eighty percent of safe injection site users practice safer injection (i. e. reusing syringes less often, injecting indoors, and using clean water and equipment). This is also because of learning about safer injecting.
The transmission of blood-borne diseases has been reduced and will continue to if more safe injection sites are opened in the Lower Mainland. The number of safe injection sites in the Lower Mainland must increase immediately. More safe injection sites will reduce the transmission of blood-borne infections, will notably reduce public injections and improve public order, and will greatly reduce overdose fatalities. More safe injection sites are needed in our city as soon as possible; action must be taken immediately.
Courtney from Study Moose
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