Posts Tagged Addiction

Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Site

I remember hearing about the supervised injection center in Vancouver a few years ago and I haven’t given it any thought since then.  It seems like an idea worth trying:

There was a big push to get a facility like this opened in the late ’90s when overdose rates in British Columbia were reaching epidemic proportions. I think in 1997 we had something like over 450 overdose deaths in the province. Those are absolutely needless deaths.

Participants at InSite have their own booth, which is clean and sanitary. We offer them new needles, alcohol swabs, a sink to wash their hands and medical care. We can dress their wounds and address chronic health issues. We can also link them up with income assistance and housing.

At our front desk, people can pick up equipment such as condoms, lubrication, needles, cookers, filters and everything you need for injecting safely. We give out as much as people think they need. You could take hundreds of needles if you want. There’s no limit. It’s not a one-for-one needle exchange.

Also, we ask that participants maintain the confidentiality of others who use the site.

They use the harm reduction model:

Well, first, we’re trying to reduce harm any way we can without requiring abstinence. We’re not trying to push things on people. I mean, we want people to be abstinent, but that’s not our expectation. Our push is to promote safety and harm reduction.

The approach we take is to promote self-respect. We’re trying to get people to respect themselves regardless of their addictions or whatever’s going on. It’s pretty much unconditional. We’re not going to meet these people with a bunch of shame. We’re not going to lump our expectations and our hopes onto them. Usually they feel shitty enough themselves. They already know that they fucked up. They’re already their own worst enemy.

We’re in this beautiful position where we’re not family and we’re not friends. We have the capacity to accept them again, easily and openly.

And why should tax payers support such a center?

People often ask why taxpayers should be paying to enable others to get high. It’s really backward. Research supports that InSite is cost-effective in preventing the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV, which are really expensive to treat and maintain. So it’s cost-saving. Every cost-benefit analysis I’ve seen has supported InSite.

The war on drugs has failed.  It’s incarcerated god knows how many people with treating their addiction, it’s costs untold amounts of wealth and the drug problem isn’t going away.  Drug addiction is a medical problem with legal aspects, not a criminal problem with a medical side.  It’s time we stopped pretending we can jail everyone whose ever smoked a joint and think that we’ve solved the problem of drugs.

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A Bad Man or a Man Who Did Bad Things?

Hugo Schwyzer has found himself at the center of another internet controversy.  This time, an interview of him appeared on Feministe.  It and he were promptly blasted, the usual charges were brought against him and the expected fracas ensued.  To give you an idea of how far it’s spread, even PZ Myer has weighed in.  At Feministe, the authors posted am apology and re-opened discussion; it’s at almost 700 comments as I post this morning.

At issue is the usual charge against Hugo – he slept with his students.  In the eyes of some of some of his critics that actions makes him a sexual predator.  At a minimum, it’s ethically unacceptable for a professor to sleep with his/her students while they are their students (it’s not a problem if it’s an ex-student or a student at the same institution so long as the individuals are not in the same department and classes).  There is also “spermgate”  – Hugo and a woman had been sleeping together but she was also dating someone else; she got pregnant and since Hugo wasn’t father material at the time, told the other man the baby was his.  It may well have been Hugo’s baby and they’ve never told the man raising the baby it may be Hugo’s baby, not his.

There is a new charge against him.  At the nadir of his addiction, he tried to kill himself and an ex-girlfriend (he turned on the gas in the apartment and closed the doors and windows).  Though he doesn’t remember it, he apparently called another friend who alerted the police who arrived before anything permanent happened.

Read the rest of this entry »

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