Many cities in the United States and Canada are dealing with an epidemic of infectious diseases and overdoses by intravenous drug users. Vancouver, Canada developed a plan to help reduce these numbers by opening a facility where drug users may inject previously purchased drugs under the close supervision of medical staff. The facility was granted legal exemption by the Canadian government so that an intensive three-year study could be conducted and the results may be helpful in determining if this pilot program could be implemented in other cities, including the United States. The facility offered sterile syringes, emergency care in the event of an overdose, primary care and referrals to addiction treatment programs.
The participants in this study were any intravenous drug users who chose to use the facility. That study points out to gain a better understanding as to if the injection facility was curbing publicly discarded syringes, drug related crimes, use of addiction treatment services and HIV risk behavior, the intravenous drug users should have been randomly assigned complete access and no access to the facility, this was deemed unethical. Also, the evaluators were completely external to the facility operations.
The Vancouver safer injection facility has twelve stalls where users may inject and is under the supervision of nurses. The nurses respond to overdoses and address other health needs, treating injection-site abscesses. There is also an addiction counselor and other support staff to help the users with community based needs such as housing and mental health treatment. While the evaluators were external from the facility operations they conducted surveys and interviews with the drug users who used the facility and those who did not.
The key concern was attracting the target population, high-risk intravenous drug users. About a year before the facility opened, a study was conducted to learn the... [continues]
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