Montreal has set up its first two supervised injection sites (SIS) for intravenous drug users. But some people ask, “Why bother?”
After all, we’re talking junkies here. If they want to kill themselves with drugs and pass their infections on to other junkies through dirty needles and sexual contact, who cares?
Maybe so. But we know that a lot of junkies prostitute themselves. And their clients can be found in all strata of society. A nice young girl may enjoy a relationship with a respectable young man who has had relations with one of these prostitutes. No one can feel 100% safe from this chain of events.
Moreover, by recuperating infected drug paraphernalia, our SIS reduce the risk of running across dirty needles in our parks and on our streets. That protects children.
Infection rates (hepatitis C and HIV, for example) among junkies are high. And when a junkie clumsily injects themselves all over their body, that can lead to an amputation.
Just think of all the medical costs incurred by junkies, from 911 calls to ambulances to hospital emergency ward admissions. Moreover, preventing drug use lowers emergency ward wait times.
Any drug use prevention strategy serves to lower the medical and legal costs incurred by society. We all pay for a junkie’s trek through the health care and legal systems.
Some junkies lose all touch with reality after injecting themselves, depending on the drug of choice. They could run out onto the road and hurl themselves in front of a vehicle. Think of the resulting deaths and injuries among drivers and passengers, not to mention the trauma of witnessing and being part of such accidents… All regrettable events, all preventable.
At an SIS, the junkie can take a moment to reflect before going back to their tormented street life: a moment to relax, a moment to perhaps make contact with an intervener interested in getting them off the streets and into a better kind of life.
An SIS is a matter of public safety – of your personal safety.