Study Finds Medically Supervised ‘Safer Injecting Facility’ Reduces Fatal Overdoses

A government-sanctioned facility in Canada that medically supervises the injection of illegal drugs has reduced fatal overdoses, according to a new study in the journal The Lancet. The researchers say their findings indicate the facility should be used as a model in other areas where illegal drug use is prevalent.

The facility, called Insite, provides clean needles to heroin and cocaine users, who inject themselves with their own drugs while they are supervised by a nurse, Reuters reports. The study found that Insite reduced drug overdose deaths by 35 percent in a neighborhood that has one of Canada’s highest rates of drug addiction.

Insite is funded by the province of British Columbia. Reuters notes that Canada’s Supreme Court is preparing to hear a lawsuit over the Canadian government’s attempt to close Insite. Critics of the facility argue that it promotes illegal drug use. The article adds that local health officials and police want to keep it open.

8 Responses to Study Finds Medically Supervised ‘Safer Injecting Facility’ Reduces Fatal Overdoses

  1. Vwalker | April 18, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Missing in the article above is a sentence from the Reuters article stating that, “The United States has urged Canada to shut down the facility.” Why is this not a surprise?

    On the other hand, a Canadian report on the injection facilities says, “Addiction should be a matter, primarily, for the Chief of Medicine rather than the Chief of Police.”

    While we in the SUD field are preparing for the wonders of health care reform, the elephant in our living room is the continuing reliance on law enforcement and jail as our nation’s primary response to substance use disorders.

    • joebanana | April 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm

      Well stated. The problem with the US’s approach to drugs is that it’s based on, like everything else, lies, and ignorance. When a policy causes more deaths than it prevents, it’s a bad policy. The illegal “war on drugs”, is in reality a war on people who don’t agree with certain policies, which, as long as it harms nobody else, is an unalienable right. Addiction is not a criminal condition, making it so, is.

  2. Brinna Nanda | April 18, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    The results of this study should not be a surprise to anyone, either. I am sincerely waiting for the day when we can pry drug policy out of the cold, dead hands of those who would arbitrate all action in terms of what is morally correct, rather than what is scientifically effective.

  3. Joe Dennie | April 19, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I am a CDN. I am appalled to learn
    my country would even allow such a
    travesty to happen. Those who support
    this advocate nota treatment therapy
    only a replacement drug to force to
    support these addicts into a prolonged
    live of suffering, physically, mentally
    and spiritually.
    What we need is treatment, one that
    can remove all the toxins and cravings
    at the same time in a short time-frame
    then have them take rehab. However our
    Politicians, self interests groups and
    Doctors will not support this kind of treatment.

  4. Edward Moses | April 22, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Is the mission of NEP [needle give away program] for, an assisted gradual destruction of the human body and life style while avoiding an abrupt death??
    None of these addicts are choosing to destroy their health and life style, their impaired addicted brain is making the choice.
    If the partying parasites using the addicted host to facilitate their own drug use truly cared, they would support rescuing the addict and preventing the spreading of harm to others.
    Supporting destructive behavior is not helping.

  5. Scott Kellogg | April 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Responding to Mr. Dennie’s point, Gradualism is a philosophy that seeks to integrate harm reduction within a recovery framework. There is information available on this approach at:

  6. john | April 25, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    What this article doesn’t address is crime stats for that neighborhood compaired to a similar neighborhod. Bet you it has the highest crime rate.

  7. Carlos | April 27, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Aren’t these the same results that Safe Injection Facilities have in Europe? Other findings was that patients get to be part of the health system while before patients would avoid medical treatment because they felt discriminated against by physicians and other health related professionals.

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