Pubdate: Fri, 30 Jan 2004
Source: Abbotsford Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 The Abbotsford Times
Author: Les Talvio
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)



I have written numerous letters advocating for drug treatment and detox and
to not have needle exchanges. I have said things such as "needle exchanges
just enable the user" and various other comments. I now find myself having
to advocate for a needle exchange.

Why this turnaround? The other day I spent most of it with a young
intravenous drug user who was using dirty needles to fix with. She was using
dirty needles as she could not exchange them for clean ones in Abbotsford.
She asked me why there wasn't a needle exchange in Abbotsford and I had to
look her in the eye and say "because of people like me who have advocated
against them." She just shrugged her shoulders as if to say 'I don't
understand it.' We continued to talk and she showed me her arms, which were
covered in track marks, swelling from where she missed the vein and went
into tissue, and redness from what was probably an infection from the dirty

I drove her to a needle exchange in Surrey, where she received clean
needles, education and examples on how to clean them, information on the
risks she was taking by shooting up and she also received a referral and saw
someone in a medical clinic. At no time was she judged, but instead was
treated with respect and compassion.

That's the same compassion I have written about in past letters. While I
still strongly believe we need to establish and fund detox and treatment
centres, I also believe - in fact I know - we need to have a needle exchange
available, not so we can enable but so we can prolong someone's life until
they are ready to seek help.

Les Talvio,

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