Pubdate: Fri, 27 Jun 2003
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2003 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Pamela Cowan


Safe injection sites are needed to address the growing drug addiction
problem in Regina and area, says the chairman of the File Hills Qu'Appelle
Tribal Council.

"As tragic as it is to need to look at things like safe injection sites, we
can't ignore the reality that there are a lot of people that are affected by
drug use," said Ron Crowe.

"We have to look at the options, and the options are a controlled setting
with the ability for counselling and de-toxification or continued use in the
back alleys and street lanes that pose a health hazard to other individuals
. I would say that safe injection sites are probably needed until we are
able to deal with the larger issue of why people utilize these intoxicants."

But injection sites are only one measure. Public education is also vital,
Crowe said Thursday.

The File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council was one of 18 partners involved in
the Regina and Area Drug Strategy Report, which was released Tuesday.

The report noted there are between 1,000 to 2,000 intravenous drug users in
the Regina Health District.

The suggestion of safe injection sites is one of 17 options listed under one
of the report's 22 recommendations.

Consultant Carolyn Laude prepared the report. She said safe injection sites
were one of many suggestions from community representatives, but the option
wasn't discussed. "I think the community has to have more discussion about
safe injection sites and they haven't had that," she said.

Public forums will be held once a permanent coordinator is hired to
implement the report's key recommendations.

The average citizen isn't aware of the degree of Regina's drug problem,
Laude said. "For some it may be an issue of denial," she said. "For others,
we're just living our white, middle-class existence and we don't see
addictions as impacting on us. It's when it starts to impact on the family
that you start to see a level of awareness."

Health Canada announced Tuesday it will fund a pilot project in Vancouver to
allow drug addicts to shoot up in a controlled location in the city's
drug-affected east side without being arrested.

"We don't want to be east-side Vancouver ever, so hence the steps they've
taken right here and now," Laude said.

"Whether it's one addicted person or 100, it doesn't matter. The fact that
you have addiction issues within a community that need to be dealt with --
you have to deal with it -- big or small."

The human and business costs of addictions are staggering.

Laude asked the chief executive officer of a medium-sized company what an
employee with an addiction problem would cost the company.

"For one business the cost was in excess of $100,000 for one person so when
you look at that -- one person is significant."
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