Safe Injection Site Essay

Safe Injection Sites Essay

Safe Injection SitesThe term 'Safe Injection Site' is one that raises much controversy. Some say it ispromoting the use of illegal narcotics and other say it helps keep the 'junkies' off thestreet. After research and a survey of what the average Victorian knows about safeinjection sites this paper will describe the pros and cons of having these facilities inVictoria. What the average persons opinion and knowledge of safe injection sites are andwhat the government is doing on this situation. Before a verdict can be made on whetheror not safe injection sites are a good or a bad thing a person must know all the facts. Andthis is what this paper is set out to do.

For those who may not know a safe injection site is a facility where users ofillegal substances such as heroin and crack can be done legally. The purpose of havingthese is not to promote drug use but rather to reduce the damage that can be done withinjecting drugs into oneself. Canadian injection sites are heavily supervised with manynurses, doctors and basic life support equipment is available if needed.

Insite is North America's first legal supervised injection site. It is located in EastHastings, Vancouver, British Columbia. Opening in 2003 with the hopes to help controlthe usage of dirty needles, which would lead to HIV and AIDS with users. Insitedescribes itself as, "Insite was designed to be accessible to injection drug users who arenot well connected to health care services - men and women who use more than onedrug; people who experience both addiction and mental illness; people with a history oftrauma; people who are homeless, live in shelters or live in substandard housing; men andwomen of Aboriginal descent and people who have tried unsuccessfully in the past tobeat their drug addiction,"Research of the Insite facility showed that 7,648 different individuals registered atthe site. 696 overdoses, with no deaths occurred, a daily average of 645 men or womenused at Insite, and the average number of visits per month, per person, 11. *All totals oraverages are for the two-year period from April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2007.

Safe injection sites have been called extremely important, and have received a lotof praise for their cause. Canadian Press has said, "Giving addicts a safe, supervisedplace to inject drugs may help reduce syringe-sharing, thereby preventing the spread ofhepatitis C and HIV/AIDS," ( 1). Although scientists have said the health impactsof safe injection sites would take years to evaluate they have already seen a dramatic dropin overdoses and death with users, "No deaths have occurred at the site although betweenMarch 10 and Aug," ( 1)On March 20th, 2009 the

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Although they aren't yet legal in the U.S., about 100 safe injection sites—controlled healthcare settings where users of illegal substances, with supervision, can inject drugs they’ve brought to the site and receive related services—are now operating in a number of countries. The services offered may include healthcare, counseling, and/or referral to social services and drug abuse treatment.

  • Safe injection sites are also known as drug consumption rooms (DCRs), safe injection rooms, and supervised injection sites, facilities, or centers.

The only safe injection site in North America, which started operating in 2003, is in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Ireland has plans to open four safe injection sites in 2016. Others are operating now in Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Australia.

Do Safe Injection Sites Really Help?

As you may imagine, the idea of "safe injection" for users of illegal drugs is controversial, particularly in the U.S. Many people question whether this is the right approach to tackling the problem of drug use in American communities.

In fact, resistance to such an approach has existed in the U.S for a long time. As a result, it was only in 2009 that the federal government withdrew its ban on federal funding for needle exchanges.

Nevertheless, an impressive body of research, going back a number of years, has shown that safe injection sites offer important benefits to the community:

  • Fewer drug-overdose deaths and hospitalizations
  • Improved understanding among users of addiction’s causes and treatment
  • Reduced street crime and litter, such as discarded syringes and other drug-use paraphernalia
  • Increased probability that users will seek and get drug and medical treatment

What Efforts to Help Illegal Drugs Users Exist in the U.S. Now?

Increased national recognition of drug addiction as a public health problem has led to growing acceptance of “harm reduction,” a non-punishing approach to the situation.

Harm reduction is based on the belief that, if injection of illegal drugs cannot yet be entirely prevented, it’s at least possible to limit some of its negative impact on users and their communities.

Steps are being taken all around the country to reduce the harm from illegal drug use. They include:

  • Establishment of needle exchanges
  • Wider distribution of Narcan, a drug that reverses overdoses, to users and public health and safety personnel: More than 100 Narcan programs are currently operating, with legal protection for those who prescribe or use the drug, in 30 states
  • Bathrooms in some social service agencies that are stocked with clean syringes, Narcan, and other aids for safe drug injection

Will Safe Injection Sites Come to the U.S.?

Whether safe injection sites will appear anytime soon in the U.S. is open to question. Political resistance and the commonly held belief that illegal drug use should not become “acceptable” will likely mean a lengthy delay in the establishment of safe injection sites here—if, indeed, this ever takes place. In the meantime, healthcare professionals will continue to observe the effects of these programs in places where they are operating, with an eye to whether and how they may benefit society in years to come.


Schwartzapfel B. “Is the U.S. Ready for Safe Injection Rooms?” TheMarshallProject.Org (2015).   


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