There’s an epidemic of drug addiction in Vancouver. Thousands of addicts have gravitated to the Downtown Eastside where the weather is mild and the drugs are plentiful.

According to police stats, about 70 per cent of the city’s crime is drug-related.

Addicts steal to fuel their habits. Drug dealers wage war on each other and their customers because drug dealers don’t belong to the Better Business Bureau.

People strung out on crystal meth, crack cocaine and heroin wander the streets looking for handouts to score a fix, scaring the tourists.  

Every year, a fresh supply of addicts, some so young it breaks your heart, populate the streets and alleys. No matter what we do, nothing seems to work.

Except Insite. Insite works.

Insite is the safe injection site in the Downtown Eastside, and since it opened in 2003, there have been 2,400 overdoses on site without a single death as a result.

Fatal overdoses in the vicinity of Insite dropped 35 per cent in the two years after it opened, according to a recent study published in the Lancet, the international medical journal. Such big news, it even made Time magazine. Research also shows that along with the decline in the number of deaths, harm to addicts has been reduced across the board, especially the rate of infection of killers such as HIV and hepatitis C.

Supervised injection, clean needles, and available counselling all work. Numerous addicts have come forward to testify that Insite saved their lives when they were otherwise doomed. So why does the federal government want to shut Insite down?

It has gone all the way to the Supreme Court to get it closed, even though the province and mayors of Vancouver, past and present, regardless of political affiliation, want it to stay open.

Either the federal government has lost its collective mind (possible) or it is deluded (likely). Deluded into thinking that by giving addicts a safe place to do what they’re going to do anyway, Insite encourages drug abuse, flouts the laws governing illegal substances, and reinforces moral and ethical failure.

Even if that’s the case, and there’s no evidence to back it up and plenty that points otherwise, our own government is ignoring the lives saved.

The feds should know that dead people are difficult to get into rehab. There’s no talking to dead people. Insite is all about survival for another day. That could be the day that makes the difference.

And speaking of crime, shutting it down would be criminal.

More from Urban Compass:

blog comments powered by Disqus