Monday, January 27, 2014

Insite - Safe Slavery

The Insite - Injection site license is up for renewal.  The location is a major concern for development in the area because this is where the drug addicts and dealers congregate.
The deterioration of the neighbourhood due to drug dealing and drug addiction resulted in Chinatown losing business to Richmond. The merchants in the downtown are plagued by the dangers in the streets and fears people have in that neighbourhood due to the  lawlessness associated with drug addiction. .
The elderly ‘cruise community’ tourists would gladly walk to China Town except for the stretch of No Man’s Land, a veritable gauntlet of drug dealers and cigarette pushers, hefty unemployed young men, who block the corridor between Gastown and China Town.  Insite is the “castle” of the drug abusing community and frankly, given the financial support of government and various other “enabling’ agencies, it's a feudal bastion to abuse.
By contrast, the world renowned, amazing fensui place of “natural" high, The Sun Yat Sun Gardens, is strangled by the proximity to Insite and the deterrant to development Insite creates.  All the restaurants, apartment complexes and all my poor patients who don't do drugs see no benefit from the presence of Insite in the DTES.  Yet no one asks them and Insite with its captive population of drug slaves promotes itself.  Everyone I talk to in the DTES  who doesn't do drugs and especially those who pay taxes considers Insite a major threat to the safety and development of the community. Who wants to raise children near a facility which support heroin addiction by promoting it's 'safety'.  What teen ager hears that Heroin is dangerous and IV drug use is the principal public health threat for HIV and Hepatitis when instead they see that major marketing ploy 'SAFE".  There is no safe injection site. As Dr Fay says it maybe 'safer but it sure isn't safe'.
The Hell’s Angels, Tong, UN gang and other allegedly criminal organizations associated with drug trade are the principal beneficiaries of Insite .  Their "customer base" is maintained and the message that injection drug use can be ’safe’ is promoted not only locally but nationally and world wide.  Labatt’s doesn’t demand tax payer money for the provision of pubs so drunks can consume in public.  People who use Insite get their drugs from dealers and use them at Insite or on the street in back alleys.  Insite's funding should not come from tax payers. If it is to be funded at all, it should be taken from the monies collected by the state when they raid heroin shipments or take the assets of dealers. Let 'harm reduction' be funded as a percentage of that 'take' but not from taxes.  Taxes should be used to prevent and treat addiction not to support crime.
There could well be a place for Insite in the overall scheme of things but instead Insite has taken the funding and falsely claims ‘credit’ for successes in treatment in the DTES which have been a direct consequence of religious organizations and the traditional methadone/buprenorphine substitution programs that are stepping stones to abstinence.   The success of the latter programs was that they restored individuals to work and relationships whereas a needle injection site marginalizes and maintains individuals dependent on drugs.  It's a slavery support system, not "therapy' and certainly 'not recovery'.
I love the advertisement that says it doesn't matter how you 'dress' up a place, if the message still stinks. Now we see Insite putting in detox and treatment facilities to 'perfume' the heroin injection facility'.
When the truth about the individual and community dangers of tobacco smoking came out people tried to ‘localize’ smokers but it was realized that even in cafe’s, second hand smoke remained a problem and the health costs of smokers to the community was overwhelming. This resulted in the widespread abstinence programs, everything being done, leading solely to that goal.   That has had the greatest success in the treatment of addiction.  People ‘cut down’  then went onto quit with the use of patches, nicotine gum and champix.  They weren’t ‘encouraged’ to use ‘safe smoking sites’.  Instead millions ‘quit’ with the traditional and successful scientifically proven approaches to stopping cigarette smoking.  Vancouver would do better to declare the city a heroin free city than promote injection sites.
The sad fact about the safe injection site is that it has kept too many people enslaved to drugs and this ‘group of addicts’ is an increasing political force. We all saw how the big tobacco companies co-opted the smokers to write letters on their behalf and misinformed them about the opposition to addiction.  Suddenly the tobacco company was seen as the ‘victim’.  The same has occurred with the wealthy and highly financed Insite. Questioning the existence of Insite, demonstrating it’s lack of validity, and Insite in sites it’s member to riot.  And riot they do with personal attacks on me for promoting the proven alternatives and questioning strongly why our government, provincially especially, and urban as well,  is providing so much money to ‘harm reduction’ and not providing equivalent funding to abstinence recovery.  There aren limitless numbers of people who will speak out about the horrors of heroin. The Anonymous People movie is just one of many examples which show what heroin does.  The 'safe' tobacco smoker folk were 'beatten' soundly by government ads that showed what tobacco smoke did to people. The Odd Squad made movies of the lives of heroin addicts in the DTES.  It's not pretty but it's not getting the funding or support from CBC and other media that as johnny come lately eventually got on board with the anti smoking campaigns that told the truth about nicotine addiction.  The same truth has to be told about heroin addiction.
What do we hear in the media, but Insite ‘drama’ whereas the quiet sincere effective successful messages of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotic Anonymous, the Harbour Light Treatment Centre, the Catholic Church;s most impressive initiatives, the first United Church, thework of Salvation Army and Union Gospel, the street mission of Father Mathew, the countless other street churches. These are discredited or ignored and all that is spoke of is Insite.  Believe me I would rather sing the praises of the amazing work of volunteers and spiritual people but their quiet message of strength and success is being blocked out by the cacophony of Insite loud speakers and fancy funding.
 Everyone working in the field knows the outstanding work of individuals, groups, churches and communities but the media and government seem blindsided by this very sexy expensive idea of curing drug addiction by supporting drug addiction. It has that kind of spend your way out of debt  attraction to the addict, brain damaged, temporarily or permanently by addiction.
We love ‘diversification’ in medicine. We love alternatives and multiple pathways to recovery. I simply object that the least effective most dangerous and truly frightening approach to recovery is demanding not only all the money but all the glory.  This is not scientific and it’s simply not true.  The ’so called’ research is anything but ‘unbiased’ . It’s threat to the community and threat to the youth is massive by contrast.
We heard about the famous Canadian actor dying after buying drugs outside Insite. Everyone in the community now knows where to get heroin, crack or methamphetamines. Just go down to Insite.  The dealers love the place.  It’s drug central.  A visiting friend walked by there last week and was offered drugs twice in the Insite block. But the police are discouraged from ‘policing’ the area because of the powerful politics of the entitled and the financial support they have.
Ironically, with the help of methadone and buprenorphine, NA and existing treatment services, the threat of IV Heroin was no longer the concern it was until Insite showed up at the time when crack and crystal meth were becoming the growing concern.
There is no ’safe injection’.  Even when I trained as a doctor to do injections I knew this.  There is no ‘elective’ reason for injecting people with a ‘recreational substance’. That’s disease and it’s enabling when anyone ’support’s’ and even ‘promotes’ it’s use.  The cost to the community of opiate use was so great that China banned it  more than hundred years ago, before the British invaded so they could ‘push’ it again in the Opium Wars.
It’s as nauseous historically as ’slavery’ ,  yet here we are promoting something akin to ’safe slavery’.  Let’s reinstitute slavery.  All we need is a  nurse to make visits to ‘plantations’ or today's equivalent,  ’child  sex slavery sites’  so we can promote  ’safe slavery sites’. Because the fact is, an addict is a slave. He doesn’t need a place to do needles but a place to get off drugs, Slaves don’t need nurses to watch them be slaves,  they need ‘freedom’.
Abstinence offers ‘freedom’.  Insite sells slavery.  At a very high price. I would be glad to see this place out of the DTES if only for the community and the people who live and work there.  We all want to have  safety for our homes and businesses.  I personally want freedom. Democracy depends on people being 'free' to vote.  Homes, businesses and communities grow in freedom.  Stop slavery.

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