Pubdate: Tue, 06 Nov 2007
Source: Abbotsford News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Abbotsford News
Author: Gerry Gramozis
Bookmark: (Supervised Injection Sites)


Editor, The News:

This is in response to Tom Fletcher's column "This is B.C.'s crime 
problem on drugs" (BC Views, Oct. 11).

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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