New report highlights the benefits of injection sites

Results from a first-of-a-kind study orchestrated by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) has shown that supervised injection facilities help people enter into addiction treatment. The study monitored 903 clients who visited the Insite clinic in Vancouver over a three-year period. The key factor seems to be contact with the onsite councillors at the facility who help people engage with treatment services.

Out of the clients who had used the Injection Facility over the last three years 73% of them also accessed addiction services, which is higher than the overall average amongst injection drug users. Therefore people who use the safe injection facility were more likely to access addiction treatment services and more likely to stop injecting for at least six months.

Dr Julio Montaner who is the Director of the BC-CfE and Chair in AIDS Research at UBC’s Faculty of Medicine stated that “Many people benefit from supervised injection facilities, which have been shown to increase addiction treatment, reduce rates of crime and incidence of HIV, prevent drug overdoses, and now help people who use drugs quit injecting,”

The study also highlighted the fact that aboriginal citizens are less likely to engage with addiction services. This is a factor that needs to be addressed as rates of addiction in aboriginal communities can be relatively high but in many ways members of aboriginal communities may be socially excluded.

Drug consumption rooms are a controversial policy to pursue for many governments, as the policy is easy prey for the right-wing media who say that drug consumption rooms encourage use. However there are many supporters especially amongst the health services who believe that they are an effective way in combating crime, the spread of blood-borne viruses and in reducing overdose rates. In France Prime Minister François Fillon recently has refused to consider the idea of opening drug consumption rooms against the advice of his Health Minister, Roselyne Bachelot.

In the UK there have been positive results from pilot studies of heroin prescription and the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Peter Carter has stated that he is in favour of prescribing heroin on the NHS. Dr Carter also said at the RCN congress in Bournemouth that he is in favour of drug consumption rooms where users would be able to inject drugs under medical supervision. The abstract for this study can be found here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20800976