May 2, 2012

Vancouver's legal drug injection center

The Awl - Vancouver, Canada is the only city in North America that provides a legal facility for drug addicts to push heroin and cocaine and other types of substances into their veins. It's called InSite, and it's both government-sanctioned and government-funded.

Located in Vancouver's notorious Downtown Eastside—often called Canada's poorest postal code—the supervised injection site opened as a 3-year experiment back in 2003 to curb the neighborhood's high levels of disease spread through shared needles and death from overdose. Now, after nearly a decade of academic research, political debate, public scrutiny and a Canadian Supreme Court ruling last September that stated InSite should remain open indefinitely, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and other cities across the nation are contemplating opening their own injection facilities. According to InSite's own records, between 2004 and 2010 they had 1418 overdoses without a single one resulting in death. No one has ever died there.

1 comment:

Chris C. said...

Canada is just rediscovering its sensible ways of the past. back in the late eighties I worked with an old man who had grown up in Manitoba in the interwar years of the 20's and 30's. He told me that a significant minority of WWI vets had become morphine addicts through their war experiences (hospitals or other). The government response was to treat this as a medical condition. The veterans were given prescriptions for a "maintenance dose" of morphine and many went on to lead fairly normal lives. Others had more severe addiction and were unable to lead a productive life. They still were given morphine and at least did not to commit crime or endanger others to get it. These people were referred to as "dope fiends" but it was a term more of pity than scorn.

I can't vouch for any of this, personally, and my old friend has since died, but it seems to agree with Canada's sensible experiments today.