Pubdate: Fri, 02 Dec 2016
Source: Kelowna Capital News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016, West Partners Publishing Ltd.
Author: Ally Turner


To the editor:

I can certainly understand the initial negative reaction that many
people would have towards the idea of safe injection sites. It seems
like a counter-intuitive initiative that enables addicts instead of
helping them. Additionally, it's fair to worry that providing services
to addicts normalizes illegal drug-use, opposed to affirming the idea
that it's a problem.

However, as an educated society with endless access to a wealth of
information, it's important for us to put aside our emotional
response, at least long enough to analyze the facts.

The fact of the matter is that safe injection sites have proven to
provide many benefits for both users and the general public. Or in the
words of scholars, 'harm-reduction' is significant. Thanks to
Vancouver and other cities which have tested the concept, we have the
information available to form an educated opinion that goes beyond our
emotional reaction.

What we first need to understand is the idea of harm-reduction.
Obviously, in a perfect world no one would use illegal and harmful
drugs. While that should continue to be the ultimate goal, there are
actions we can take to reduce the amount of harm that these activities
cause both users and society as a whole.

For drug users, benefits include a reduced rate in morbidity, reduced
rate in mortality, reduced crime rate, and an increase in the number
of people seeking help for their addiction. Safe injection sites
ensure that they are not contracting and spreading
infections/diseases, they're not taking too much, and gives them a
better chance at staying out of jail. Additionally, the facility gives
drug users a direct connection to addiction treatment and the
opportunity to pursue healing. If the well-being of the most broken
within our society isn't enough to convince you, maybe the societal
benefits are.

As substantial as the benefits are for addicts, the list of positives
for the community are much more abundant. Reduced crime rates are
obviously good for us, plus we'll see a significant reduction in
public injections, and a substantial decrease in discarded syringes
(and we all know that dirty needles are every parent's worst nightmare).

On top of making our downtown safer for tourists and families, the
site will prove to be a valuable investment that saves our healthcare
money. Clean supplies mean a significant decrease in HIV and hepatitis
C infections (along with a whole other host of possible

While it does cost money to run the safe injection site, those costs
pale in comparison to the cost of treating and preventing the spread
of HIV, hep C, and other infections/diseases. In years to come, the
investment will prove to save the taxpayers money, just as it has in

I would encourage the community to read as many studies as possible on
this subject and make an effort to understand the real impact this
initiative would have on our downtown. More likely than not, the
effects will be positive for both addicts and civilians alike.

Some sources:

Ally Turner, Kelowna
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