Pubdate: Sat, 10 Nov 2007
Source: Maple Ridge News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Maple Ridge News
Author: Gerry Gramozis


Editor, The News:

Re. This is your crime problem on drugs (B.C. Views, Oct.

Tom Fletcher described Insite, Vancouver's supervised injection site,
as "unsafe" and a "defeatist pest-hole."

Given the proliferation of research that has been published in
peer-reviewed, prestigious medical and psychological journals over the
past five years, his comments are insulting.

As Insite provides a non-threatening environment, clients have become
willing to ask for referrals to other health and social services.
Vancouver Coastal Health reports that over a one-year period, 2,000
referrals to other services were made, with 40 per cent of the
referrals being to addiction counselling services. Insite has also
proven itself as an entry point for detox services, with one in five
regular visitors starting this type of treatment.

The sharing of syringes poses a dramatic risk to individual drug users
and to the larger community. This risk comes in the form of increased
costs to the health system and to the transmission of blood-borne
pathogens. Insite has resulted in users being 70 per cent less likely
to share syringes than injection drug users who do not use the facility.

Between 2004 and '06, there have been more than 453 overdoses at this
facility but not a single individual has died. This statistic alone
refutes Mr. Fletcher's comment that Insite is unsafe.

What would be unsafe is the closure of Vancouver's supervised
injection site. Research shows that the costs would be high: 22 deaths
related to overdoses each year; 112 hospitalizations for non-lethal
overdoses each year; 2,000 emergency medical visits for injection
mishaps each year; 100 hospitalizations due to bacterial infections
each year; and a failure to make 100 referrals to methadone treatment
each year.

Gerry Gramozis,

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