Vancouver’s drug woes escalate -

Vancouver’s drug woes escalate

Safe injection sites reduce harm. Do they encourage abuse?


Vancouver’s hard drug trade is going gangbusters. A new report, released last month by the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, notes a “ten-fold” increase in the use of crack cocaine, and a major increase in the use of crystal methamphetamine by street youth over the past decade. Roughly 90 per cent of adult drug users say they can score cocaine or crack within 10 minutes, while 60 per cent of street youth say they can buy crystal meth in that same time frame. And just in time for the Olympics, 40 per cent say they have injected in public.

The study, the first comprehensive look at the epidemic of hard drug use in Vancouver, shows that the federal government’s anti-drug strategy is “failing,” say authors Evan Wood and Thomas Kerr. The key to reducing disease and hardship caused by drug addiction, they argue, is “harm reduction” policies. The authors point to a significant decrease in needle-sharing, which has led to a decrease in HIV and hepatitis-C infections, thanks to initiatives like Insite, the controversial supervised-injection facility the federal government has attempted to close. (Ottawa is currently appealing a May 2008 B.C. Supreme Court decision that has allowed Insite to remain open temporarily.)

“How can you call that success?” asks retired RCMP officer Chuck Doucette, vice-president of the Drug Prevention Network of Canada. Vancouver, with “the worst drug problem in Canada,” also has “the most harm reduction programs,” he adds. While harm reduction may work to reduce harm to addicts, it doesn’t curb drug use, he says. “What works,” he says, is “treatment, enforcement, and getting people off drugs.”

Yes, intervention works, says Dr. Brian Conway, one of the country’s foremost experts on AIDS policy, but there aren’t enough hospital beds to treat users. “The problem is: if someone walks in today, and wants to go into detox, the waiting time is seven to 10 days,” he says. “And injection drug users don’t have a day of clarity, or a week of clarity; they have a moment of clarity.”


Vancouver’s drug woes escalate

  1. Based on what evidence does Chuck Doucette assert that enforcement gets people off drugs? We cannot enforce our way out of this complex issue of addictions and the criminal justice response can only further marginalize those who are the sickest. Try re-integrating with society when you have a long criminal record for drug related crimes.

    We cannot stop them from entering total institutions like our prison system, why do we think we can do it in an open society?

    I would fully expect that cities that have the worst drug problem ought to have the most harm reduction services. It is not an indication of failure. Doucette has his cause and effect backwards.

  2. I was arrested in the Cranbrook RCMP office when I went to inquire about a fax number. The Mental Health Act is misused. In 1986, I drank. Since February 17, 1987 – I have not had a drink.

    Psychiatry is, I feel, abusive and institutionalized "help" needs careful scrutin.

    Legal representation – this is a right, but not in Canada.

    Legal drugs and illegal drugs are drugs.

  3. a bit off topic, but: seems that a regular law abiding citizen is last in line for anything in this idiotic canada, Now this
    and this is weird, Federal court sides with gangsters against tax man
    Judge says Canada Revenue Agency had no right to demand information about source of UN founder's income . Do these guys have an assigned judge for each of them to be on standby so when they have a bowel movement the judge can be right there with paper to wipe their tender bottoms ? it sure would not surprise me. what next in this stupid country????

  4. East Vancouver Darkness – Lisa The Harsh Reality of Drug Addiction
    Lisa is a resident of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, She has been part of the Harm Reduction experiment taken place for over the last several years. You can see she has tried most of the resources available but life in general is very sad and lonely, Addiction support is no problem but life is very hard." Harm reduction" or "Terminal Addiction" / "Addiction Till Death" Below are some comments from people who have viewed this video and how they feel about Lisa's life as It exists today. I would not wish this sadness upon anyone not even my enemy.

    Best wishes to you Lisa

  5. Instead of safe injection sites where a junkie mugs a senior, buys his crack cocaine and goes to a safe place to get high, there should be a program where the junkie gets a card and goes to a safe place and is given the drug of his choice FOR FREE. This would put drug dealers out of business and cut crime. Unfortunately, it would also put a lot of Liberal lawyers out of business.

  6. While these "safe" sites supposedly keep addicts safer, it also enables them to keep using. What about the rest of our safety? Are the streets of Vancouver safer with a bunch of doped up addicts running around looking to beg, beat, or steal for their next fix? Do we treat starvation by not feeding? The FIRST STEP to recovery is to stop using, then and only then can some recovery begin.
    These sites do nothing more than make the dealers more wealthy, the public more at risk, the addict more sick, and robs funds for real health care and recovery programs.
    As someone in recovery for 8 years now, I've had some experience with this issue.

  7. Vancouver's landmark heroin study could transform addicts' lives January 1st, 2010

    Good luck with that Vancouver. Most people who are addicted stay addicted until they seek full recovery, Heroin has been around for a long time and will continue to do it's best for those who suffer from addiction. Methadone pretty much has the same effect . Thinking that we can use Heroin as a source of treatment to me is foolish addiction dictates the agenda, just like recovery it's one or the other. Below are a few people I interviewed and they share there experience with Heroin, methadone and Harm reduction,

    This first interview is with two recovered addict and one who is still struggling, talking about the methadone program here in Vancouver. we are all close friends who have had extensive histories with Heroin and Methadone

  8. Next I interview a young man who has used Heroin most of his life he recently relapsed after eleven month's clean time this video is quite graphic

    The Harsh Reality of Drug Addiction

    Next we have a woman named Lisa she has been on all the current Harm reduction program's available in Vancouver's Downtown eastside
    this is a sad sad story this poor woman only has her addiction to look forward to in her life

    Last but not least we interviewed more woman who talk about the pro's and con's of Heroin vs. Methadone

    You be the judge the whole reason for these videos is to bring some truth out about the addiction support services that are in use here in Vancouver. My research has been on a personal level for over twenty five years in addiction as well as these and many more video interviews. Thank you recovered addict

  9. Looks like the numbers are rising. They should do something about this soon.

  10. re-intergrating into society afta" a long bout with "DNA" (drugs n alcohol) n a lengthy rap sheet will not will always be denied good paying jobs no matter how much edumacation you amassed….I'll tell u one thing, if i didn't have my $95000.a yr job, i'll be robbing,pillaging,scamming,stealing to my hearts content bcause i know society will nott hire me with the mini rap sheet that i have…also, havin the "ropeAdope" look doesnt help..having that look causes many to relapse!!!..i would if i was a drug user!!…if youre wondering wat type of job i have…i work for the city of n.y. Dept of Sanitation..21yrs..FULL BENEFITS,UNLIMITED SICK LEAVE,5WKS VACATION,HALF A PENSION IF I DECIDE TO LEAVE yeah i'm a garbage man, so what!!!..i'm proud of it!!!ay strong people..