Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Safe Injection Clinic and Canada's Election

About a month ago, my friend Kelly, who is a chaplain at the university suggested that I attend a lecture that his friend Meera Bai was giving at another local university.  Meera spoke passionately about her work as a nurse at North America's only legalized drug injection clinic, Insite, in Vancouver.  She shared about how it was her faith in Christ that compelled her work there, and told stories that were incredible.

The Conservative government of Canada is currently trying to close this clinic.  To be honest, I wrestle a little bit with the argument that it condones illegal drug use, but, for me, I think the fact that it is saving lives is key - that it values people as worth saving and caring for.

This morning I came across this article about the clinic in Vancouver, and the fact that it is a bit of an election issue, as we head to the polls on May 2nd.  I wanted to share the article here, and invite discussion.  What do you think of this clinic?  Good? Bad? Indifferent?  I'd love to hear your thoughts (whether you're Canadian or not!)


shallowfrozenwater said...

i read as far as "Harper's policy is that the site supports addiction" and i nearly puked. does closing the site mean that addiction is lessened? not at all, addiction would get worse plus all those folks would be in significant danger or more and worse diseases as they share dirty needles and continue in a spiral of poverty heading downward.
at least with a safe injection site they can avoid further disease and have access to people who can help them address their addiction issues. if people are going to get help with their addictions it sure won't be by closing off their access to people who can help them get there.

Lisa said...

I think the things that totally got me were some of the stats that the girl who worked at the clinic shared.

Stats like the fact that since they opened they have intervened in something like 2400 overdoses with 0 fatalities. And the fact that users of the clinic are 2x as likely to engage in addiction treatment. Or the fact that for ever dollar spent on the clinic, the benefit of prevented HIV infection deaths is somewhere between $1.50 and $4.02 saved.

The girl who spoke raised the point, as well, that by providing clean needles and clean water for mixing their injections they're preventing the infections that would occur from using, in her words, "dirty water from puddles in urine soaked streets."

The stories she told that night will be with me for a long, long time.

I totally think that the prevention of further disease makes sense. It values people as humans, as having worth, and for me, that's huge.

Ally said...

As an addict (albeit one who didn't use needles), my only reaction to anyone who'd want to shut down such a clinic is- WTF, go educate yourself on addiction and its umbrella of other problems. You give someone a clean needle, literature on treatment-- you prevent the spread of disease, you lower the numbers of OD's, you keep "these people" alive (maybe that's why we don't want these programs in the US??) and you introduce them to the possibility of a better life. To me, the pros far outweigh any cons. Bottom line-- even addicts are human and thus have worth.

Lisa said...

I'd agree, Ally!