Pubdate: Wed, 15 Jun 2005
Source: Revelstoke Times Review (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Bowes Publishers
Author: Tyler McAuley


The first though that entered my mind when I read Tom Fletcher's June 8
column, So-called "safe injection sites" are anything but safe, was
"ignorance is bliss. The reason that I say that is because it is obvious to
me that the person who wrote it had not been within 50 miles of the Insight
of the Downtown Eastside.

I can speak from experience as I have been a health-care worker down there
on the front lines for the past two years and am still employed by the
Vancouver Coast Health Authority (VCHA) but am in Revelstoke on a leave of

The writer seems to be missing the point and fell asleep at the wheel in
stating that the Insight is not safe. It is not the job of the health-care
officials to test the pungency of the dope; they are there to monitor the
injection. There are so many common misconceptions when it comes to
intravenous drug use. It is the injection itself that is cause for concern.
Endocarditis (an infection in the lining of the heart), septicemia (blood
poisoning) and abscesses are the major problems when injecting drugs. The
so-called junkies are the experts in drugs. They know who to buy it from,
what to buy and how much. Here is a piece of free advice and a news flash:
drugs are not going away. It is the responsibility of the government to take
care of its citizens. The harm-reduction model adopted by the VCHA is one of
education and awareness - not abstinence because that does not work for
most, and who are we to judge someone on the severity of their disease? Yes,
addiction is a disease, just like diabetes and cancer.

The four pillars approach is not always the best model to follow, however,
the safe injection site is.

In this province it costs the health-care system (you and I, Joe Taxpayers)
$1 million annually to support one person who has AIDS. It costs roughly $12
million a year to run Insight.

Why don't you let the public read that piece of information and then let
their opinion tell you if it is justified or not? From a business sense and
a humanitarian perspective it absolutely makes sense. It often makes me
chuckle at times that issues like these ones and drugs in general are such
hot potatoes and are always on the back burner. Everyone begrudges it until
a member of his or her family becomes affected by this disease and then -
all of a sudden - it becomes a good idea.

Furthermore, it is too bad that this is limited to 300 words; I could write
a dissertation on this topic.

Tyler McAuley 

Revelstoke, B.C.
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