Following up on my last post on harm reduction, I've been hearing a lot on the radio lately about harm reduction efforts happening in Seattle. In particular, stories about creating "Safe Consumption Sites" across King County. Here are a few links in case you have missed the discussion.
Research shows that these kinds of programs have worked in places such as Vancouver, BC, and several countries in Europe. The programs reduce harm by
* reducing the number of overdose deaths
* providing a safe, clean, and secure space for people to use, while reducing the visibility of use to the community
* reducing HIV and Hepatitis C transmission, thereby saving not only people's health but also taxpayer money
* providing an opportunity for people who are using drugs to have multiple contacts with health professionals, who can help users move towards treatment options, healthcare, housing, and other services
Opponents say that these programs encourage drug use and increase crime. The research does not support this. In fact, research indicates that those who use safe consumption sites actually get help and/or enter treatment sooner than those who do not use the sites.
For people who do not want a drug consumption site in their backyard, I wonder...Would you rather wake up to dirty needles outside of your doorstep? Would you rather have less people in your neighborhood contracting HIV and Hep C? Would you rather pay more or less in taxes for the costs associated with arresting and housing homeless people on drug charges, hospitalizing those who have overdoses, and paying for treatment for those who have contracted HIV and Hep C through dirty needles? Would you rather see people injecting drugs in your neighborhood, or have them do it indoors, out of sight?
What would you rather have?
I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Amber is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. She offers counseling for individual adults and clinical supervision for social workers. For fun, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, researching genealogy, reading, and dragon boating.
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