Report card on Vancouver's safer injecting facility

In September 2003 Vancouver opened a safer injecting facility, a place where people inject pre-obtained illicit drugs under medical supervision and have access to addiction counseling and other community resources. Legal exemption by the federal government was granted on the condition that a 3-year scientific evaluation of the facility's impacts be conducted.

Wood and colleagues summarize the findings from evaluations in those 3 years. They found a large number of public health and community benefits and no evidence of harms. Findings show that the facility has attracted injection drug users at high risk of HIV infection and drug overdose and that there have been large reductions in public drug use, publicly discarded syringes and syringe sharing.

Use of the facility has also been associated with decreased HIV risk behaviour and increased uptake of addiction treatment services. The program has acted as a central referral mechanism to a wide range of other community resources.

In a related commentary, Wainberg calls on the federal government to continue its support of Vancouver's safer injecting facility and questions its recent decision to eliminate the funding needed for a final evaluation of the facility.

p. 1399 Summary of findings from the evaluation of a pilot medically supervised safer injection facility
- E. Wood et al
http://www.cmaj.ca/pressrelease/pg1399.pdf
p. 1395 The need to promote public health in the field of illicit drug use
- M.A. Wainberg
http://www.cmaj.ca/pressrelease/pg1395.pdf

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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Excess on occasion is exhilirating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.
-- William Somerset Maugham