Smoky River Express
Edmonton residents – not to mention, the entire province – should turn down the idea of allowing ‘safe injection sites’ for narcotics abusers.
Paula Simons, of the Edmonton Journal, had a piece about this subject in the April 4 edition. She writes, in part:
“Supervised injection sites are no panacea for a medical and social crisis. We need more addiction treatment beds, better mental health care services, more supportive housing. We need early intervention programs that stop people from spiralling into serious addiction in the first place. Just creating safe, clean places to shoot up doesn’t address the root causes of drug abuse.
“But leaving people to shoot-up or die on the street is no answer. Edmonton’s problems aren’t on the scale of Vancouver’s. But if a safe injection site might reduce overdose deaths and hospital admissions, might reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C, might help vulnerable people access general health care, maybe it’s worth trying here.
“It will need lots of community debate and consultation. But now is the time to start the conversation.”
But I say, there should no debate at all over this. There should be no acceptance of the so-called ‘safe injection sites’ for two reasons:
First, it doesn’t get the narcotics abusers to end their addiction and seek help. The same can be said for needle exchange programs. The ‘safe injection sites’ and needle exchange programs merely allow them to continue into the downward spiral of abuse and self-destruction.
Second, if Prince Albert’s experience with uncollected dirty needles is any indication, then we’re just setting up public safety for a disaster.
Check the following link for a CBC News report, at www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/snow-melt-reveals-thousands-of-dirty-needles-in-prince-albert-1.3058338, about the situation in Prince Albert.
The report shows several sites where dirty needles were found and collected for disposal, possibly thousands of them. Also, one person defends needle exchange programs in that story, which is morally wrong.
When I worked at Denny’s Restaurant in Victoria years ago, four or five times I found used needles in bushes when I was cleaning the parking lot. My employer had a suction cup gripper to collect the used needle for disposal.
But imagine if a small child, a family pet or someone else was walking or running through there and they accidently pricked themselves by stepping on it. What is the possibility that they may have suffered serious injury or health problem from it?
The needle user may have felt guilty if they were responsible for the outcome. But that doesn’t excuse their conduct for putting public safety at risk, or that they’re engaging in an illegal activity.
And the idea of calling them ‘safe injection sites’ is absolutely wrong – and dangerous.
There is nothing ‘safe’ about engaging in the use of illegal narcotics like heroin, cocaine and fentanyl.
Allowing someone to inject themselves at a ‘safe injection site’ with these narcotics only perpetuates their addiction. Give me one example of a narcotics abuser who would willingly and unconditionally seek counselling after “shooting up” at such a site. Then I might reconsider my position.
The one thing I can agree with is the Alberta government’s move to allow take-home Naxolone for fentanyl abusers. Here is part of a news release on the Alberta government’s website.
“Naloxone is a safe, effective drug that can be used to temporarily reverse an opioid overdose if it’s given in time, allowing people to seek emergency medical help. If naloxone is not available, rescue breathing can be used on an overdose victim until help arrives.
“Naloxone kits are saving lives, and the Alberta government is working to make it easier for people who need naloxone to get it.”
This includes making it available at walk-in clinics throughout Alberta. Please check the same website for more information.
Granted, this strategy doesn’t get fentanyl abusers off that narcotic outright.
But it allows the abuser and/or their family to access a resource that could save a life – and hopefully get them on the road to recovery.
Ultimately, the answer is not to tolerate and accept ‘safe injection sites’ or needle exchange programs.
The only way to break the cycle of dependency is to get the narcotics abusers into treatment.
Make them see that what they’re doing to themselves is self-destructive and traumatic on their loved ones and friends.
‘Safe injection sites’ and needle exchange programs aren’t the answer to ending the cycle of narcotics abuse. They only perpetuate the problem, and put public safety at risk.
The answer lays in counselling programs, public education like the RCMP’s DARE program and saying ‘No!’ to narcotics.