The city of Philadelphia has announced plans to begin the encouragement of supervised drug injection sites around the city in an effort to combat the opiate epidemic.
City officials announced the plan on Tuesday in that they highlighted the main focus of the proposed sites were to offer medically-supervised drug consumption, among other things. Those other “things” that were noted include access to rehabilitation services and clean medical supplied such as needles.
The Philadelphia Health Commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, stated the core purpose of these sites would be to interact with drug users in hopes of offering treatment for their substance abuse.
But would that truly be the case? Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada enlisted a “supervised injection site” in 2010 and has been a catastrophic failure ever since. The point of these sites were to get people into treatment and reduce overdose deaths however, it only provided a safe place to hide from authorities in order to violate controlled substance laws while increasing the amount of overdose deaths.
Vancouver saw an increase in opiate use after they opened Insight, a non-profit company with a logo containing a syringe underlining the company name and a poppy flower to dot the “I.” Insite markets themselves as an organization that helps the addicted get better when, in reality, they are merely providing a location for addicts to slowly kill themselves while receiving taxpayer funding to pay-off the staff. The logo for Insite should be a skull and cross bones.
If these sites were successful there would be a decrease in opiate addicts in Vancouver however, the city has experienced the opposite year after year. Prior to 2010, the year Insite was first opened, Vancouver saw a small decrease in illicit drug deaths. As Insite’s introductory year ended in 2010, so did the lives of more addicts than the year prior to their existence. A trend that Insite seems proud to continue without batting an eyelash. As they see more drug use outside the facility and all over British Columbia, they continue to facilitate and exacerbate Vancouver’s drug epidemic as well as surrounding areas.
Illicit drug overdose deaths have skyrocketed since the introduction of Insite. We can use Insite’s own numbers to prove how horrible these injections sites are and the damage they are doing to the community. In 2015 Insite had reported 440 injection room visits per day with 6,532 individuals registered. In 2016 Insite had reported 514 injection room visits per day with 8,040 individuals registered. If Insite has been open since 2010 and their primary goal is to get people into treatment, why on Earth have overdose deaths increased every year? Why have the amount of users in and around Vancouver increased if these sites are successful in getting addicts into treatment?
This is a two pronged problem. First, by providing “safe injection sites” they are merely providing sanctuary from controlled substance laws and law enforcement which could result in consequences that drive the addicted into real treatment. Secondly, the government is facilitating heroin/opiate use thus, dispelling the stigma that surrounds illegal opiate use in the first place. Shame is a very big motivating factor for some people to get clean or to avoid the drug all together. But that warning from the government is no longer credible since they are now overseeing and facilitating the use of heroin/opiates. The result is more citizens in and around these facilities become addicts. Addicts who want treatment will go to a treatment facility, not a facility to oversee further drug use. Truly the epitome of counterproductive.
Let us look at a 2017 summary provided by the British Columbia Coroners Service regarding illicit drug overdose deaths in British Columbia, https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/public-safety-and-emergency-services/death-investigation/statistical/illicit-drug.pdf.
- There were 96 suspected drug overdose deaths in October of 2017. This is a 26% increase over the number of death occurring in October 2016 (76).
- The number of illicit drug overdose deaths in October 2017 (96) equates to about 3.1 deaths per day for one month.
- In 2017, individuals aged 19-59 have accounted for 91% of illicit drug overdose deaths. Males accounted for 82% of all suspected illicit drug overdose deaths over the same time period.
- The three townships experiencing the highest number of illicit drug overdose deaths in 2017 to date are Vancouver, Surrey, and Victoria.
- Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority have had the highest number of illicit drug overdose deaths (405 and 358 deaths, respectively) to date in 2017, making up 63% of all illicit drug overdose deaths during this time period.
- Vancouver Coastal Health Authority has had the highest rate of illicit drug overdose deaths (36.4 deaths per 1000,000 individuals) and also experienced the largest increase in rate from 2016 (52% increase) among all the health authorities. Overall, the rate of illicit drug overdose deaths in BC increased 46% to 30.2 deaths per 1000,000 individuals from the 2016 year-end rate of 20.7 deaths per 1000,000 individuals.
- Rates of illicit drug overdose deaths are highest in Vancouver, Okanagan, Fraser East, Central Vancouver Island, and North Vancouver Island Health Services Delivery Areas.
- Interior, Fraser and Vancouver Island health authorities saw an increase in the number of illicit drug overdose deaths in October 2017 compared to September 2017.
- 3% of illicit drug overdose deaths occurred inside (57.9% private residences, 29.5% other inside locations) and 12.1% occurred outside in vehicles, sidewalks, streets, parks, etc.
- There were no deaths at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.
The data shows there were no deaths at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention however, there is a very important statistic that Insite and the British Columbia health authorities are keeping from the public. The number of people that were registered with Insite supervised consumption sites and have since passed away from illicit drug overdose while at home or some other location. Judging from the data above coupled with the omission of such a vital statistic, one can be sure that number is an embarrassment for the program.
One reason Vancouver was sold on these sites is that people would use in the facility only and not at home and/or alone. Clearly they have no understanding how addiction works or that line of reasoning would have been scoffed at. To think heroin/opiate addicts will wait until they get to a supervised injection site when they are feigning for a fix is inane and ignorant.
The numbers above prove that supervised injections sites are not a part of the solution, they are part of the problem. The people that are proposing them are a part of the problem as well, as they are unable to extrapolate the negative impacts from factual data provided by health authorities.
Supervised injection sites are no different than opening up assisted suicide centers that offer a gun to people who want to end their life, as long as they bring their own bullet. Yes, as long as they bring their own bullet, the kind medical professionals will ensure you place the gun in the right spot to ensure optimum efficacy. That would be absolute lunacy, just as the proposal from Philadelphia city officials is.
There is no logic in the government of Philadelphia to advocate for safe injections sites for opiate addicts. NONE. This is an attempt to give-up on the addicted and assist them in their suicide. How can we fight the opiate epidemic when the government becomes a part and parcel in the crimes that allow it to run rampant?
If Philadelphia does decide to begin installing supervised drug injection sites we can only hope the DEA will be waiting by every door. May the DEA search every individual entering these facilities via probable cause and offer them a path to a real drug treatment program instead of one that will be complacent with drug use and oversee the addicts’ slow death.