Pop-Up Injection Site Opens
On August 25, 2017, a new pop-up injection site opened in downtown Ottawa. This site provides drug users a safe place to inject their drugs and have someone nearby should they overdose. Similar sites have opened in other Canadian cities as well.
The new site is located at Raphael Brunet Park at St. Patrick and Cumberland streets. Organizers stated that over 300 people have visited the new site since it opened August 25th. The purpose of the site is to prevent possible overdoses by those who may be injecting drugs or taking them by other methods. Many Canadian cities have seen deaths from overdoses rise considerably over the past year with many of those deaths resulting from the use of opiates. In particular, the drug most responsible for those deaths is Fentanyl which has been manufactured in illegal labs and smuggled into Canada. Many believe this Fentanyl has been manufactured in China and then brought into Canada by various means. The Fentanyl is mixed with heroin or other drugs and then sold on the streets to users who are unaware of what is in the drugs they are consuming or what amounts of these chemicals are in their fix of choice.
Legal or Illegal
While the premise of injection sites to monitor drug users and intervene with medical treatment should they accidentally overdose makes sense to help save lives, they are also condoning the use of illegal drugs. What makes this matter worse, is the group chooses to take over a public park in Ottawa that was being used by the public. How many people are going to bring their children or pets to a park that is now being used as a shooting gallery for drug users? What kind of message are we sending to our children that once used the park and now are questioning the activities taking place?
Are we not encouraging drug users to openly break the law in regards to drug possession and use when we allow such facilities to open? I wasn't aware that possession of heroin and other substances was now legal and could be used in public. I understand that such sites are being opened in other cities, but should we not be trying to curtail such activity and be treating the addiction rather than providing a safe place to use illegal drugs? Addiction is a serious matter and it can affect people in various forms including gambling, alcohol, or drugs, to name a few. People who become addicted often have underlying issues that cause such dependencies. These injection sites are in place in hopes to give drug addicts a safe place to inject their drugs until they decide they want to quit. There are many drug users who are never going to quit and have no intention of quitting and will do whatever it takes to keep their drug use going, including committing crimes such as stealing and robbing businesses and individuals. Should we be providing such people a place to do their drugs so they can go out and rob someone later to buy their next fix?
A poll taken on CTV News Ottawa showed that the majority of those who answered are against such injection sites. Many believe we should be treating the addiction and not providing a venue for the purpose of injecting, ingesting, or smoking illegal drugs. There are programs available that show great success rates in treating addiction and for those who are serious about ending their addictions, they should be provided the resources to do so. However, those resources should not be provided numerous times for those who are not serious about ending their addictions and only attend such programs to avoid jail time or other restitutions imposed by the courts. There are going to be those people who will never quit and have no intention for doing so and know they are destined to die from their addiction. How can you help someone who refuses help?
It was announced today that the pop-up injection site will be closed down and the neighbourhood will be getting their local park back. If such sites need to be opened, they should be opened in a place other than a public park. Sandy Hill Community Center has applied for approval to open such a facility there and that would be a much better location for such a site. Like many others, I still oppose such sites and believe we should be treating the addiction and not condoning illegal drug use or facilitating such. People won't be overdosing from illegally manufactured Fentanyl that is finding its way into street drugs if people weren't doing such drugs. I know that as long as such drugs are available, there will be a market for them, but educating people on the dangers of such activities would be the first step in helping to solve the addiction issues and the overdose deaths now occurring. Getting people to stop using these dangerous drugs I would think should be the goal our police and governments be striving for, not using resources for safe injection sites and treating overdose cases as a way to cut down on opioid related deaths.
I know there are those who believe the safe injection sites are the way to go, but I believe we need to treat the addiction, not provide a place to maintain it. Let me know what you think. All comments are welcome.