SFU study finds illegal drug-injection sites are saving Vancouver taxpayers money

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      It has long been an open secret in certain health-care circles that the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) will, from time to time, operate an unsanctioned drug-consumption site.

      Unlike Insite, North America’s only government-approved supervised-injection facility (SIF), the VANDU sites run illegally. Usually occupying a spare room somewhere in the Downtown Eastside, these locations serve as relatively safe places for crack cocaine and heroin users to access clean equipment and consume drugs. They will sometimes remain open for months before shutting down.

      Now an August 2015 paper authored by SFU researcher Ehsan Jozaghi has examined one such site and found that the illegal operations have been a good deal for Vancouver taxpayers.

      “VANDU’s unsanctioned SIF establishment in the DTES saves taxpayers’ money,” reads the paper published in the academic journal Health & Justice. It explains that significant cost savings occur because consumption sites lower the transmission rates of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C, thus saving health-care expenditures on treatment. For example, researchers estimated that one additional SIF site can run on $97,203 per year to avert 30 new HIV cases and 81 new incidents of hepatitis C.

      The paper notes that Insite is operating at its maximum capacity and that efforts to establish additional SIFs have long stalled in Ottawa on account of opposition from the federal Conservative government.

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      Crack houses R Us

      Sep 9, 2015 at 3:34pm

      I'm sure the readily available inpatient rehab facilities have helped save lives too.
      Oh yeah not really eh? Not advocating for that? Not cool enough? Danger of the patients eventually not needing so much "help"?

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      Jeff Hutjens

      Sep 10, 2015 at 1:20am

      I wish this article had contrasted the approx $100,000 a site costs with the enormous health care costs for 30 aids patents and 81 with Hep C, not to mention the terrible human suffering that is ameliorated....

      You have to ask yourself...

      Sep 10, 2015 at 6:42am

      whether a sector of the economy that employs thousands of workers, and is dependent on a steady supply of poor and addicted, is truly committed to the eradication of poverty and substance abuse. Several provincial gov't ministries devote vast amounts of time and money to solving the problems we associate with poverty and substance abuse, never mind the NGOs and charities that provide support to the same population. It would be far less expensive for taxpayers to provide a guaranteed minimum income for everyone, dismantle the poverty maintenance system (welfare), and use the saving to provide comprehensive treatment for substances abusers and the mentally ill. Working for 20+ years in emergency services, often in the DTES, has demonstrated that we are doing more harm than good.

      If we didn't have them...

      Sep 10, 2015 at 9:56am

      We would continue to have needles in the most remote public areas and if you ever accidentally got stuck by one you would be damn sure you would change your mind about "Safe injection facility's".

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      Archie Bunker

      Sep 10, 2015 at 1:11pm

      I advocate giving out free 100% pure china white heroin straight from the Ling Dynasty to anybody who wants it.

      Really not

      Sep 10, 2015 at 3:59pm

      Insight works so well that there's no risk of finding stray needles anywhere near it, right? No, wrong. And we still have to pay city workers to go and hose down the human feces from the alleys. Degradation of the human condition is easy to accept incrementally or if it's someone else's family member.

      It's Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, not Vancouver Area Network of Get Off the Damned Drugs and Free Yourself of the CrackHouse Tether.

      Lee Ving

      Sep 15, 2015 at 1:31pm

      Been living around the DTES since 2008, and there's been noticeable improvement ever since the drug galleries opened. There's no longer piles of needles everywhere, you can actually walk through Strathcona without having to stare at the ground for fear of stepping on something, every doorway doesn't have a heroin addict slumped in it, there's even less open crack smoking and more importantly less pipe "explosions", I used to hear something go pop then people screaming for an ambulance every second night from using makeshift pipes in the rain while heating the glass.

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      hay sting

      Sep 15, 2015 at 2:38pm

      So we should let people die because there's still some needles littering the streets? They call it four pillars for a reason, and this particular pillar has saved lives-- if that's what you actually want. Now let's get going on the other ones too.

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