Participants of InSite are drugs users, often addicted to more than one drug. They are frequently mentally ill; homeless; of Aboriginal descent; or have a history of trauma. Many also have HIV/AIDS, or hepatitis C. Participants using the supervised injection site are logged into a database using a false name before injecting, which allows InSite staff to track usage without compromising the participants’ anonymity. When using these facilities, the participants have access to clean injection equipment, including syringes, sterile cookers, filters, and water. Research has shown that the use of this equipment has actually reduced the spread of infectious diseases and soft tissue damage, both of which are common damages of intravenous drugs users.
InSite benefits both participants and the community by:
Connecting participants to programs: InSite engages a marginalized population that is hard to reach through conventional methods, mainly due to their struggles with homelessness, one or more mental illnesses, injection drug addictions and trauma.
Limiting the spread of disease: InSite participants have access to clean equipment and educational programs that help limit the spread of diseases.
Preventing overdose: Participants injecting at InSite are supervised by nurses, who ensure that medical help is immediate should an overdose occur. To date, well over 2400 overdoses have occurred at InSite, with no fatalities.
Providing cost-effective health care: Preventative health measures provided by InSite (by limiting overdose deaths and the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C) saves the health care system over $6 million annually.
If you wish to learn more about the Vancouver InSite Project please visit
www.hc-sc.gc.ca for further information. InSite is also currently exploring possible candidates for a volunteer coordinator position so if you wish to apply please contact Russ Maynard at Russ.Maynard@vch.ca.
By David Swanson