Pubdate: Fri, 01 Dec 2006
Source: Esquimalt News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Esquimalt News
Author: Dr. Keith Martin


The latest study on Vancouver's Insite safe injection site has proven
once again what we already know. That a safe injection site saves
lives. In the report published in the Canadian Medical Association
Journal, researchers show how the site has led to an increased
incidence of drug users getting help for their addiction while slowing
down the spread of HIV and other communicable and preventable diseases.

The evidence from this study, proves beyond any doubt, that these
sites are critical to solving our drug problems and reducing harm. And
while the success of the site is not in question, it is important to
recognize that a safe-injection site is only one part of a
comprehensive harm reduction strategy.

The Conservative government's opposition to these sites is well
documented. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a judicial approach to
substance abuse, a "war on drugs." This is the same approach used in
the U.S. and has been proven to be an abysmal failure. Thus our
government's approach will have a negative impact not only on
Vancouver Island, but the entire country where such sites are needed
and have been urgently requested.

Victoria has approximately 1,500 intravenous drug abusers. Many of
these people have psychiatric illnesses or were in an accident and
sustained permanent brain damage.

Dr. Richard Stanwick, chief medical officer for Vancouver Island, has
a proposal to start a safe-injection site as part of a comprehensive
harm-reduction strategy for our city. This is the right thing to do.

The program will save lives, reduce disease rates, decrease crime,
reduce substance abuse and integrate people with these problems into

His plan not only includes a safe-injection site where these drugs are
dispensed, but counsellors, detox, psychiatric assistance, skills
training, job assistance, and accommodation. This plan is similar to
programs that have been proven to be very successful in Europe.

It is not enough to just give people struggling with these challenges
a place away from the street to inject drugs; we must also give them
the tools and resources to help them get back on their feet.

Prime Minister Harper must stop moralizing, look at the facts and do
the right thing for these individuals who are frequently voiceless and
fall through the cracks of society. Lives depend on it.

Dr. Keith Martin,

MP, Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca

Dr. Keith Martin is a medical doctor who has spent 17 years on and off
working in a detox unit in British Columbia.
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