Pubdate: Wed, 16 Aug 2000
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2000 David Syme & Co Ltd
Contact:  250 Spencer Street, Melbourne, 3000, Australia
Author: John Sherman


To understand why we need safer injecting rooms, we have to determine who 
will use them and why.

Two groups won't use them. One is the middle-class professionals, who 
demand anonymity. There are hundreds in this group. Second, there are the 
thousands of semi-professional heroin-dependents, trades people, those in 
sales, secretaries etc. They inject at home or at work.

Two groups will use the rooms. First is the so-called "street" user. There 
are probably a couple of thousand in this group (including most of our jail 
population). Their heroin dependence will typically last 10 to 20 years.

They will use the rooms like our emergency departments, for their physical 
and psychological crises, for referral for housing needs and treatment of 
their addictions.

Finally there are the teenagers -- a new phenomenon over the past five 
years due to the availability and cheapness of heroin. They have a chance 
of detoxification and long-term abstinence if they are under 23, have 
family support, are employable and don't have a drug-using partner. This 
group needs every chance to be directed to treatment. The rooms need a 
Centrelink component, as work is fundamental to recovery.

John Sherman, St Kilda
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