What’s fascinating is how a simple parsing of the language in the video reveals the depth of the differing perspectives.
Listen carefully and you’ll notice how those opposed to the injection site deal in abstract terms whereas those who support it talk in tangible outcomes.
For example, in the clip, Dr. Thomas Kerr and Insite workers/supporters cite tangible benefits: a 45% reduction in public drug use in the area, users being 33% more likely to enter detox, the reduction of discarded used needles in parks and schools. This are measurable, tangible benefits and outcomes.
Contrast that to the quote from an unnamed US official: “It that is a cruel illusion. Because they’re still addicted, trapped trying to get help and dying by virtue of the drug itself.”
Here is a vague comment designed to appeal to your emotions. More importantly, it is devoid of fact, research, or for that matter, logic. Being addicted, trapped, and dying from drug use is a reality for users whether the injection site exists or not. The injection site at leasts gets users in regular contact with social workers – which is why users who use the site are 33% more likely to enter detox – those relationships build trust, which enables users to seek help.
But the worse quote is from Dr. Colin Mangham, director of the Drug Prevention network. His “research” shows that 800 people overdosed at Insite in 4 years.
First off, this isn’t research, this is publicly available information. Second, Mangham’s statement presumes that those 800 overdoses would not have occurred if Insite did not exist. This is pure fantasy. Indeed one of the main purposes behind creating Insite was to ensure overdoses would occur within the site as opposed to on the street. Those who overdose at Insite receive medical attention quickly and cheaply (a nurse is on hand who provides the necessary treatment). It is worth noting that despite these 800 overdoses, they has not been one death at Insite.
In contrast, when drug use occurs on the street, deadly overdoses are both commonplace and expensive. Victims invariably require paramedics, who in turn may require a police presence. In addition, overdose victims may get taken to an emergency room – the most expensive point of contant in the medical system.
I expect with the Olympics coming there is going to be more coverage of this type. One things the Federal Government will have to consider is that, if they shut Insite down, an army of international reporters swarming the downtown east side are going to want to know: what more effective policy did you replace it with? (Hint: there isn’t one).