For those of who you do not know, drug injection sites, are legally sanctioned and medically supervised places where intravenous drug users can go and do drugs. As you can probably surmise, having a place where heroin users or intravenous cocaine addicts can go and do their drugs in peace, under the protection of the law and the watchful eye of medical personnel, is a fairly controversial thing. In fact, the idea of having drug injection sites is so controversial that there are only 66 such facilities throughout the world and only 1 in North America.
There are currently no drug injection sites in the United States and this will probably not change any time in the foreseeable future, due to our drug laws and the current political landscape in regards to addiction, but our neighbors to the north, Canada, opened one in Vancouver in 2003.
Vancouver’s facility has seen strong local support for the work that it is doing in the community, but it is not without its detractors who believe that giving drug addicts “diplomatic immunity” of sorts, sets a bad precedence and only further encourages drug abuse. They believe that drug addicts should not be allowed to feel comfortable with their decision to use drugs and that local authorities should do everything in their power to stop people from using drugs, rather than help them do it safely.
The theory behind drug injection sites is that by giving intravenous drug users a safe place, where they can get clean needles and inject their substances under the supervision of medical personnel, they remove the possibility of public health concerns, such as HIV/ AIDS or Hepatitis. It is similar in thought to needle exchange programs, where they are not attempting to stop the usage of the drugs, but are merely attempting to help people do them safely. Sites such as the one in Canada also removes the public health hazard that improperly disposed of needles can bring and it keeps people off the street or having to use drugs in public areas, such as bathrooms or the park. While all of this may seem outlandish, the idea of having a safe place in which drug users can use their drugs is actually rooted in a humanizing view of drug addiction and opening more such facilities could do wonders for addicted populations.
This humanizing view of the addict and drug addiction is what make these facilities so important because most of the world has taken a stance against drug addicts that results in the criminalization of addiction. This means that we are willing to offer them support if they are willing to stop, but until that point, they are considered criminals and so they are treated as such. It is the equivalent of if we only offered support to diabetics who were willing to change their diets and if they weren’t then we would refuse medical help to them. That may sound like a crazy analogy but it is accurate and it is what we do to drug addicts day in and day out in this country and many others throughout the world.
For instance, in the United States, we still struggle with the idea of offering needle exchange programs for intravenous drug users, even though the research has shown that it results in a reduction of transmittable diseases and crime. Yet looking at that research, we still refuse to allow them in certain states because to do so, would mean that we are aiding and abetting “criminal activity” and we just can’t have that. And so we actually wind up harming drug addicts, and in turn, hurting our society, because of our refusal to see drug addiction as a disease and not a moral failing on the part of the addict.
Yet, sites such as the one in Canada offer hope. They offer a progressive view on addiction that seeks to deal with the problems at hand, rather than taking a moralistic stand based on nothing but preconceived notions. They look at the damage that diseases transmittable by needles have caused and they say, “we may not be able to get them clean and sober, but we can at least keep them safe.” Taking this approach means that addicts get the service they need and until they are ready to actually ask for help, they do not need to lurk in the shadows sharing needles with strangers. They also offer the possibility for a real discourse with the addicts that are coming to the sites to use drugs. If you think about it, it must be a very strange experience for a person who always had to hide their addiction to be able to walk into a building, sit in a chair and have a nurse help them do heroin. The impact of this on a person’s psyche is probably tremendous and by offering no judgment on the person, it creates an environment where asking for help might be a lot easier.
So while we will probably never have such a site in the United States, it is a great thing that such facilities exist and as we move forward with our own reforms to drug laws, we can hopefully learn a lesson or two, and remember that drug addicts are people too.
Seeking Treatment For Your Intravenous Drug Usage
If you find that when you try to stop drinking or using drugs you cannot, then you may need to seek treatment for your addiction. It is normal to have misgivings about going away for treatment and Dream Center for Recovery understands your fears. Our trained staff has been in your shoes and we are here to help you every step of the way. From the process of early recovery to your reintroduction back into society, we are here to show you how to achieve a happy and long-term sobriety. So don’t delay, call us today at 1-877-978-3148.