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Shooting gallery for addicts
September 16, 2003 11:21 AM   Subscribe

"Vancouver has opened North America's first legal shooting gallery for drug addicts." -for all you poor saps where guns are a part of your everyday vocabulary, NO that's not a place where drug addicts shoot guns.- this is a pilot program supported by all levels of government in BC and in Canada, where addicts can inject drugs in a supervised, clean environment. The purpose of which ultimately I think is to bridge the huge gap between "them" and "us" and possibly shrink the distance addicts have to reach through for help. Does my heart bleed for "them"? Absolutely not. You choose your weapon, you suffer the consequences. But what this could lead to is less addicts and therefore less reason for addicts to commit crimes to support their addictions...
posted by giantkicks (71 comments total)

 
How exactly does making a shooting gallery into a spa-like environment discourage drug use?
posted by gsh at 11:32 AM on September 16, 2003


Bush: But drug addicts are eeevil. Anyone who does drugs should go to jail, and anyone who lets people do drugs in their house should go homeless.

Canada: What about your DUI conviction in Maine? What about your coke days that you deny, but won't get the tests to prove? What about your underage drunk daughters? What about your niece, who can't seem to make it through even the most cushy, elite rehab programs?

Bush: Drugs are bad, mmmkay?
posted by zekinskia at 11:33 AM on September 16, 2003


Exactly. One one hand, this is kind of ok, on the other, well...I don't really understand how something like this can be set up to support an illegal activity. How does the law work around this?
posted by agregoli at 11:34 AM on September 16, 2003


How exactly does making a shooting gallery into a spa-like environment discourage drug use?

First: It's clean. It's not a spa-like environment.

How does it help reduce drug use? By bringing addicts into proximity with medical professionals and peer counsellors. Is that going to stop everyone from using? No, but the idea that keeping them out in the filth is going to work has been proven wrong.

In the meantime, we reduce the spread of HIV and Hep C from shared needles. We stop them from shooting up with puddle water, thereby reducing endocarditis. We end up with fewer used needles littering the alleys and streets. We have people chilling out in a controlled environment, rather than passing out or OD'ing on the street.

Agregoli: the way the law works around this is as follows: community agencies and police have agreed that something needs to be done to improve the existing situation, and they simply agree to make it work. They are going after the dealers, not the addicts. This is what happens when a community's approach to drugs is not held hostage to ideology, but is developed in good faith and with attention paid to evidence gathered in other countries that have undertaken similar programs.
posted by stonerose at 11:41 AM on September 16, 2003


This is way cool.

Western operating procedures are always to attack symptoms rather than causes. If any one here has known a hardcore drug addict, they know there were issues there BEFORE the drugs. So long as people still turn out fucked up, there will be drugs/alcoholism/crime etc. Best to reduce their impact on society, rather than blowing money on trying to wipe them out.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 11:47 AM on September 16, 2003


Sounds good, as long as everyone agrees to make it work.
posted by agregoli at 11:48 AM on September 16, 2003




I'm one of those "poor saps where guns are a part of your everyday vocabulary." I wasn't aware that shooting heroin is now more socially acceptable than exercising our rights as recognized by the Second Amendment. My bad.
posted by keswick at 11:51 AM on September 16, 2003


'drug fueled crime' is crap. Yes, junkies commit crimes to pay for their habbit, but you can attribute that to the insanely high prices caused by prohibition (black market premiums).

People will commit crimes to get anything of value. How many people had been robbed/murdered for those SWEET NEW RIMS THAT KEEP SPINNING WHEN YOU STOP?

Also, becuase heroin can only be obtained via the black market, its not efficient to smoke it, so it usually ends up being injected. If prices weren't insane, you'd see alot less needle use.

How come every statistic says people need to be free to fuck up their lives if they want, yet the US seems bent on legistlating morality?
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 11:54 AM on September 16, 2003


I don't think the main goal is to reduce drug use, rather it is to reduce the number of people dying from drug use.

I'm reminded of the quote about insanity being trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So I have no problem with them trying something different.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:55 AM on September 16, 2003


Does my heart bleed for "them"? Absolutely not. You choose your weapon, you suffer the consequences.

so it's a huge surprise, i guess, that there is a "huge gap" between "'them' and 'us'" that needs to be bridged in order for people to get help.

maybe it starts with having some sympathy.
posted by kjh at 11:56 AM on September 16, 2003


keswick: Though I'm not a gun owner, I noticed that comment too. Not to be critical, giantkicks, but you risked derailing your own post there...

Back on topic, drugs are a health problem and this treats them like a health problem.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:57 AM on September 16, 2003


...for all you poor saps where guns are a part of your everyday vocabulary...

Oh, I see. Knowing the terminology around learning how to safely handle a weapon makes you a "poop sap", but knowing the hip lingo of degenerates and junkies makes you not only "cool", but a responsible citizen, as well. Thanks for the update.

Disclaimer: I have friends and family who are degenerates and junkies, and I am all for safe treatment and decriminalization. I just don't see why many "liberals" are so blind on this one issue.
posted by majcher at 11:58 AM on September 16, 2003


This topic was recently covered by Salon. I forwarded the Salon article to two friends who've done harm reduction work in Vancouver for years, and learned that one of them is working at the center.

Despite my undieing support of harm reduction projects like DanceSafe, I admit to having some initial shock at the new Vancouver project. The Salon article, however, addressed many of my concerns. I'll be interested to see how it works out.
posted by arielmeadow at 12:03 PM on September 16, 2003


This is nothing new. Burroughs speaks of similar buildings in "Junkie" where shots of morphine were given to patients, less and less everyday, to kick the junk habit.
posted by Satapher at 12:27 PM on September 16, 2003


I live in Vancouver and I support the creation of the injection site. It just may not work out as well as hoped. Currently crack cocaine is the cheap drug of choice here. Still, there are thousands of drug addicts in the city (we have relatively warm winters and a steady supply of drugs) and too many drug deaths.

A safe injection site will not increase drug use. This thing is located in an area of the city that the addicts live in. It's not like some office worker is going to see it and think "hey that looks cool, think I'll give it a try". One look at the addicts on our streets here does more than any anti-drug ad.
posted by Salmonberry at 12:31 PM on September 16, 2003


A similar project was started in Spain a few years back. I believe in some other European countries as well. I think what stonerose said:

In the meantime, we reduce the spread of HIV and Hep C from shared needles. We stop them from shooting up with puddle water, thereby reducing endocarditis. We end up with fewer used needles littering the alleys and streets. We have people chilling out in a controlled environment, rather than passing out or OD'ing on the street.

is exactly the reason it was decided that this is a good idea. Upholding the law is one thing, but treating a disease -and drug addiction is a disease- and preventing other diseases is important as well. Not to mention the social value of bringing addicts back into the fold (somewhat) of mainstream society, even if it is only to receive health care.
posted by sic at 12:46 PM on September 16, 2003


drugs are a health problem and this treats them like a health problem

case closed.
posted by Satapher at 12:48 PM on September 16, 2003


lead to is less addicts and therefore less reason for addicts to commit crimes to support their addictions...

Not to nitpick but it's fewer addicts and fewer reasons. Mmmm grammar. Unless, of course, addicts and reasons have suddenly become continuous values. If so then ... go on with your bad self.
-j
posted by jdiggans at 12:49 PM on September 16, 2003


Every crime needs a safe haven. For gambling, we have Las Vegas, for grand larceny we have the chair of the NYSE, and now for drug-use we have Vancouver. Congrats Vancouver, now I know where I can get high when I'm in town...Oh wait, I forgot drugs won't be available at the clinic...yeah, thats the ticket.
posted by bwinnard at 12:50 PM on September 16, 2003


How exactly does making a shooting gallery into a spa-like environment discourage drug use?

No doubt you're also wondering how clean hospitals help cure disease.

I wasn't aware that shooting heroin is now more socially acceptable than exercising our rights as recognized by the Second Amendment. My bad.

Uh huh. Don't know about your understanding of shooting heroin, but you and the NRA's understanding of the Bill of Rights is...uh...your bad.

And we're not quite clear on your concept of "socially acceptable", either. I'm sure we'd all love to hear more about what is "socially acceptable".

U.S. firearm deaths for year 2000 - 28, 663
U.S. drug-related ("legal and illegal") deaths for year 2000 - 19, 698
Source - National Vital Statistics Report, Volume 50, Number 15.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:02 PM on September 16, 2003


bwinnard, you've completely missed the point of this initiative. Did you even read the link? This isn't going to be a place where tourists are going to go to get high, and the space has strict rules, which include no dealing on premises and only supervised injecting. If you're looking for a place to get high in V., I'm quite sure there are better options than a place where people who NEED to get high go.

Gambling isn't a crime in Vegas. Just because it's illegal in your neighborhood doesn't make a crime where it isn't one. So where's murder's safe haven, and rape's??
posted by archimago at 1:02 PM on September 16, 2003


Let me guess, bwinnard: Utah is the safe haven of bigamists, Newfoundland the safe haven of unemployed fishermen, Paris the safe haven of surrender-monkeys, and Thailand the safe haven of laviscious sluts...

Well, that about covers it. You keep criminalizing legitimate, understandable, correctable, admittedly lamentable problems, and we'll see how far society gets.

Why don't you try forgetting what you were scared into believing in junior high for half an hour and take a realistic, non-jingoistic approach to the problem?

Vancouver: Congratulations. Sincerely. 2003 has been a good year for Canada.
posted by jon_kill at 1:10 PM on September 16, 2003


How many people had been robbed/murdered for those SWEET NEW RIMS THAT KEEP SPINNING WHEN YOU STOP?

We don't know, how many?
posted by sudama at 1:13 PM on September 16, 2003


f&m, I'm not going to derail this thread any further. I appreciate you pointing me to such clearly unbiased sources. You've made a believer out of me.

Is there a particular heroin dealer you can refer me to?
posted by keswick at 1:14 PM on September 16, 2003


How exactly does making a shooting gallery into a spa-like environment discourage drug use?

Well, it would certainly suck firing up smack to Enya...
posted by jonmc at 1:17 PM on September 16, 2003


complete with snack bar and original artwork, could pass for an upscale salon or spa

Shouldn't it be shooting & art gallery for drug addicts.

U.S. firearm deaths for year 2000 - 28, 663
Does this #, 28,663 include one's death because he was pointing a gun or had murdered too? Also this is in Canada what's their #'s?
posted by thomcatspike at 1:20 PM on September 16, 2003


I'm shocked at the pinheadedness being shown here. I thought MeFites were generally a little more intelligent than this.

Safe injection sites have been shown to reduce drug use by providing addicts an opportunity to interact with those people who can best help them fight their addiction.

There are a great number of users who don't actually wish to be addicted, but who haven't the organizational skills to actually deal with the process of getting help.

The safe injection site lets them engage in their addiction in a less risky manner, and simultaneously gives them a chance to ask questions, seek advice, and get the help they need to boot the habit.

This asinine attitude of ignoring long-standing problems has just got to stop.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:24 PM on September 16, 2003


There are a great number of users who don't actually wish to be addicted

But it's so much easier (and more fun) to look at them as unrepentant criminal scumbag sinners. Don't bother me with details.
posted by jpoulos at 1:28 PM on September 16, 2003




I would like to point out that there are a variety of political positions available that tolerate both drug use and widespread ownership of guns. Shocking, I know.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 1:41 PM on September 16, 2003


Drugs & Guns are actually quite similar. I don't think anybody would argue that their existence improves the world in any way, but if you simply HAVE to have them, suit yourself.
More on topic, the aformented statistics on liberal drug laws in Holland and Switzerland prove that they work. You can't really argue against them.
posted by Celery at 1:53 PM on September 16, 2003


I would like to point out that there are a variety of political positions available that tolerate both drug use and widespread ownership of guns.

Preferably at the same time.
posted by jonmc at 1:53 PM on September 16, 2003


Why do people here in the US hate Canada, again? I'm with you, jon. Vancouver Rocks. Nice trails too.

Even if you hate and fear drug users, why wouldn't you support a facility that gets them off the sidewalk near the Bon Marche? I don't understand the opposition to this one at ALL.

I think the scariest part of this thread was the "poop sap"...
posted by hoborg at 1:56 PM on September 16, 2003


Drugs & Guns are actually quite similar. I don't think anybody would argue that their existence improves the world in any way, but if you simply HAVE to have them, suit yourself.

How does my husband and I going to the range and shooting guns at paper targets compare to someone shooting a lethal substance into their arms?

No one is harmed by us shooting at the range with our evil handguns. And no one will ever be harmed by them, unless someone were to attempt to kill us.

Now explain to me how guns and drugs are the same.

And, I'm not a conservative nor do I think all drugs are bad, so don't even start down that road.
posted by SuzySmith at 2:03 PM on September 16, 2003


Do you people really think that shooting drugs is a disease? If that's a disease, then how is it different than over-eating? My body can tell me it would like a hamburger more than once a week, but in my head I know that's probably not the best thing for me, so I resist. Why can't these people resist? Its called a lack of willpower and the more these people are coddled into thinking its something they can't control, the worse off they'll be. I'm not saying lock them up, that's surely not the answer. However, I am ready to accept that there are always going to be people who are unhappy with their lives and feel the need to turn to chemical stimulation for an escape and I'm fine with that. I also feel that if you keep doing it, you have to see some sort of major negative consequences in order to quit. These people are in desperate need of a wake up call, not a hug saying, "its ok".
posted by bwinnard at 2:14 PM on September 16, 2003


SuzySmith, if you choose to use a gun (a potentially dangerous item) for recreational purposes, that is your right - as long as you don't shoot anyone.

Similarly, if someone wants to take heroin (a potentially dangerous drug) for recreational purposes, that should be their right - as long as they don't kill anyone, shoot 'em, steal from them, or whatever.

Hence it makes as much sense to provide heroin users with shooting galleries as it does to provide you and your husband with a shooting gallery.
posted by skylar at 2:20 PM on September 16, 2003


Public health issues are SO over some people's heads!
posted by sillygit at 2:27 PM on September 16, 2003


bwinnard, do you consider alcoholism a disease, or is it merely a "lack of willpower" in your opinion? Do you personally know any recovering alcoholics, and if so, have you ever talked with them about their "lack of willpower"? Did they mention how AA "coddled" them with "hugs", which made them even more worse off? Or how once they saw the "major negative consequences" of their "lack of willpower", they simply "resisted" and are now all better?
posted by monosyllabic at 2:43 PM on September 16, 2003


"[drug users] are in desperate need of a wake up call, not a hug saying, 'its ok'"?! Does it take any effort on your part to be a complete asshat?

Go back to your privileged life, and pray do not bother to grace this thread with your insight any longer.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:44 PM on September 16, 2003


I put alcoholism right up there with drug-addiction in terms of it being a pseudo-disease. Really, do you think early caveman could have been an alcoholic? I don't. You know why, because he never touched the stuff. Yes, I've talked to recovering alcoholics and they all regurgitate this crap you are about it being out of their control and totally letting the blame for their weakness fall extremely far from the tree.
Besides, where's the line that seperates disease from real lack of self-control? Is a shopaholic diseased? What about someone who likes to set fires? How about the kid down the street who likes to pick on smaller kids? You could chalk all of these up to some sort of chemical imbalance, mumbo-jumbo.

Finally Fishy, two questions. 1) What the hell is an "asshat?" and 2) What the hell does "..and pray do not bother to grace..." mean? For God's sake, make some sense before you start telling me when and where to post. They have a preview button you know?
posted by bwinnard at 3:07 PM on September 16, 2003


I'm going to start saying "poop sap" more often.
posted by majcher at 3:12 PM on September 16, 2003


Wow! I didn't think you'd fall for such an easy troll, bwinnard, but you hit that one clean out of the park. Good job. You sure showed those wimpy pinko jackasses at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism who's boss.
posted by monosyllabic at 3:26 PM on September 16, 2003


bwinnard, what you don't recognize is that people who think like you ARE making drug policy in the U.S. now, and have been for decades. Yet, the U.S. has among the highest levels of drug abuse AND imprisonment in the developed world, while countries with the liberal policies you criticize have much lower rates of both. So...what are we missing here?

2) What the hell does "..and pray do not bother to grace..."

It's an eloquent, grammatically correct, and sarcastic means of saying 'please take your self-evidently flawed opinions, which you present in an objectionable manner, and go away.'
posted by stonerose at 3:29 PM on September 16, 2003


The comments (and the FPP) deriding and mocking the initiative betray an almost wilful ignorance of the subject. I've lived in Vancouver for quite a few years and have seen up close, but thankfully not suffered first hand, the effects of both the heroin problem AND the futility of enforcement-based attempts to control it.

Whether or not the safe-injection site will actually reduce drug use is impossible to say because no other city in North America has had the necessary combination of compassion and balls to try something different. That said, the results of similar programs in European cities suggests this is a possible outcome.

What WILL almost undoubtedly be a result of the site is a drop in the number of overdose deaths we see here. I doubt that most of critics here will find something bad to say about that, unless they have sunk to the level of believing that society is better off without its ill.

When the police have more power to 'clean up' addicts and shit-kick dealers, we do NOT see a drop in deaths. When international treaties are struck to tighten up borders and shipping channels, we do NOT see a drop in deaths. When idiotic programs funded by smelly money like DARE come into schools and propagandize to kids with scare tactics we do NOT see a drop in deaths. If a reduction in the number of OD deaths is achieved by the site, it is more of a success than any law-enforcement initiative to date.

This problem is so big and complicated that any positive step is a desparately needed one. If this program is one of those baby steps, then it will have accomplished far more than the hyper-retarded Just Say No camp has in its 20+ years of fruitless banter.

bwinnard, if you'd like to see what heroin addiction is like up close and then tell us if you think it is a disease or not, come on up for a visit and drop me a line. I'd be happy to walk you through Main and Hastings and we can talk to some people about what would be a good 'wake up call' for them. Seriously. You might find that the real world doesn't not always fit well into your world of watertight apriori reductionist conclusions.
posted by holycola at 3:32 PM on September 16, 2003


mono: wouldn't this be equivalent to AA having a meeting during happy hour at the bar?
posted by keswick at 3:34 PM on September 16, 2003


For the record, Stoney; I would make drugs legal in the U.S. The war on drugs ties up way too many resources in my opinion. But opening up a place where people can do it safely is going a little far.
Also, I'm not your English 101 teacher from State U. There's no need to compose these epic essays with words that would disgust the Bard himself for over-dramatizing.
posted by bwinnard at 3:36 PM on September 16, 2003


FYI: Willpower and disease...

Heroin in the Brain

More on heroin addiction

Drugtext.org on Heroin:
New York, with the largest number of addicts (some estimates place as many as half the nation's addicts there), has recently tried draconian measures that can get even a small-time dealer or possessor a mandatory one-year-to life sentence. To the surprise of no one except the legislators, such penalties have not deterred continued heroin use. The misleadingly simple explanation for the failure of law in this area is the absolute fact that heroin is addicting. Society is misled into believing that heroin addiction is curable and within the control of a user who sincerely wants to change. Experts have documented a universal reaction to addiction, even after many years of abstinence, that goes a long way toward proving that personal willpower is not a rational or even possible solution. The addict can withdraw and detoxify with any number of medical aids, or even by using the cold-turkey approach, but almost always he will be subject to the post addiction syndrome. Although research in this area is spotty, we do know that even after withdrawal the craving for heroin can and usually does recur, particularly during times of anxiety or when a "ex addict" is confronted with former junkie friends and neighborhoods. Scientists speculate that a potential physical craving, as well as a strong psychological desire, may be caused by permanent biochemical changes in the abstinent "ex-addict." The almost nonexistent success rate of the various treatments should lead us to reconsider the nature, cause, and effect of addiction. Unfortunately, it may be true than once an addict, always an addict, and that the best possible treatment is the substitution of one drug for another.
I have been living with a recovering heroin addict for eight years. When she tried to quit cold turkey (in the beginning), she relapsed. She has been on methadon for the last seven years and she relapses much less frequently. Still she will sometimes see a movie with heroin use (like "Pulp Fiction") and it will take all she can do to keep herself from relapsing.

Still, she and I are both lucky that she never shared a needle during her heavy drug use years (when she was 16-19) since most of her friends from that time have contracted the diseases one associates with intravenous drug use. A center like the one described in this article would go a long way to reducing this sort of preventable disease transmission. Needle exchange programs help, too.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:39 PM on September 16, 2003


bwinnard,

For the record, Stoney
I assume you're talking to me. It's customary, unless you've developed a rapport with a user, to use his/her full username.

opening up a place where people can do it safely is going a little far.
You haven't explained how, nor have you provided evidence to counterbalance the evidence presented earlier in the thread.

Also, I'm not your English 101 teacher from State U.

Clearly.
posted by stonerose at 3:43 PM on September 16, 2003


Australia has tried the legal injecting room with some success, although there are many in the community against it. While I am sad that things have come to this, we must accept that making drugs illegal has not and will not stop people using them. By putting addicts within reach of help, lives will no doubt be saved and that makes it worthwhile. I still hate the idea that our society has sunk to the level that these facilities are needed, though.

Likewise, needle exchange programs here are fulfilling a need, despite pressure from the US to curtail them.
posted by dg at 4:28 PM on September 16, 2003


giantkicks, your post topic preamble, is literally punk. What is wrong with guns being a part of daily vocabulary? It's hunting season soon. You calling me a poor sap because of it? Fool.

Your opinion that drug addicts, heroin, in this case, shouldn't be helped is not surprising of many who aren't familiar with what heroin does to people and why they turn to it in the first place. You show absolutley no understanding of an addict. Your attitude of intolerance is breathtaking. Do you suggest we continue to stick our collective heads into sand and the problem [and the addicts] will go away? *Oh, I know, let's jail them. That'll solve it, right?* [note sarcasm]

Big up stonerose.

Big, big up to Mayor Larry Campbell, who made good on his election promise and bridged federal health officials and a reluctant local police department to support the pilot project.

Now THAT is politics, as it should be. Looking out after the end user. As proven in Holland and Switzerland, it works. It'll take time, but what a start.

The US war on drugs is a joke. It doesn't work, they aren't interested.
posted by alicesshoe at 4:30 PM on September 16, 2003


Heroines: "portraits of addicted women in Vancouver's heroin and cocaine ghetto"
posted by todd at 4:44 PM on September 16, 2003


bwinnard-obviously addicts bear some responsibility for their situation*, but just as obvious is the fact, that if it were that easy to stop, just a matter of willpower as you say, there would be no drug addicts.

The disease analogy is somewhat flawed, since it's not neccessarily (in the case of hard drugs like heroin at least) the user but the substance, so the analogy to pyromaniacs and the like is flawed as well. If you shoot or snort enough of the shit your body will crave it and make you feel absolutely dire if you don't get it. Simple chemical reaction.

*for picking it up in the first place, what with all the information we have about it's ill effects. But there are some people stupid or naive or miserable enough who still will. So we gotta deal. And you may say jail is the place, but I rather save cells for the murderers and rapists and gangsters we let out to make room for dope addicts on mandatory minnimums.
posted by jonmc at 4:47 PM on September 16, 2003


I still hate the idea that our society has sunk to the level that these facilities are needed, though

I don't understand this statement. Use of mind-altering substances is and has been common to just about every society since recorded history, some of those substances are addictive. A humane society finds ways to help those who become addicted - I fail to see how setting up this facility is sinking to any level, if anything, it's rising to a level of greater humanity and understanding. It's the punitive, brutal, prohibitive ways of dealing with the very human desire to change one's state of mind that invovles a society sinking, not humanitarian ways like this one of dealing with the problems that can result from drug addiction.
posted by biscotti at 5:28 PM on September 16, 2003


jonmc: obviously addicts bear some responsibility for their situation... for picking it up in the first place, what with all the information we have about it's ill effects.

As a way of illustrating that...

Referring back to my recovering addict partner, she started when she was 16 and had grown up with all of those "brains on drugs" commercials. My understanding is that she started because:

1) She could afford it.

2) Her 19 year old boyfriend (now dead of an overdose) was doing it and told her that all that drug education stuff was a pack of lies.

3) She was 16 and thought she was indestructible.

In retrospect, starting drugs is the biggest regret of her life. She holds herself responsible - not the boyfriend, not the dealers who called her up when she was trying to kick to ask if she wanted free drugs, not society. While she hates doing drugs now, regrets that she did it, and has been more or less clean for years, she still has days where she wants to relapse - and some days when she does. She spends most of the week after a relapse furious with herself, but when the addiction is triggered, it is a bitch and a half to conquer it. She fights that demon at least once a week and I'm proud of her for not giving into it more than one or two times a year.

She runs her own business. She is respected and well liked by her peers. Pays her taxes on time and doesn't drive under the influence. Probably, if she'd been sent to jail for possession when she was 19, her life would have gone in a very negative direction.

And, again, if there had been some sort of program like the one in the article in her neighborhood, more of her addict friends would be healthy today. Had she contracted Hep B or HIV during the bad phase of her life and then wised up, her poor judgement as a teenager would be haunting her in an even worse way than it does now.

I guess what I'm saying is "Way to go, Vancouver!"
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:31 PM on September 16, 2003


I still hate the idea that our society has sunk to the level that these facilities are needed, though

I don't understand this statement.


I was not meaning to imply that the program itself is bad (I think that it is a great step and one that is very hard for authorities to take, given the implicit approval of illegal activities that it brings). I do feel, however, that it is a sad reflection on society that there is a need for a place where addicts can feed their demons in relative safety. It makes me sad that these people may have no family or other support structures to help them stabilise and, if they wish, overcome the addiction. If you ask me if I like the idea of shooting galleries, I say no. If you ask me if they are necessary, I say yes.

You could compare the shooting galleries with smoking rooms at airports, I guess. Somewhere to go to feed your drug addiction without harming others in the process.
posted by dg at 6:20 PM on September 16, 2003


sounds like a good place to pick up freaky chicks.
posted by delmoi at 7:03 PM on September 16, 2003


well, just to weigh in I support the shooting of guns AND heroin.

But, uh, not at the same time.
posted by delmoi at 7:08 PM on September 16, 2003


POOP SAP!
posted by majcher at 7:26 PM on September 16, 2003


I fail to see how setting up this facility is sinking to any level, if anything, it's rising to a level of greater humanity and understanding.

Well said.

!
posted by sic at 12:24 AM on September 17, 2003


In a larger sense, these types of programs are just as much about the society that implements them as the subset of the society that needs them. It shows a collective maturity and sophistication that is rather impressive given the number of important issues that our societies choose not confront (domestic and foreign poverty comes to mind) for lack of will or compassion. As some countries "sink" to childlike, black and white world views that filter out all of the complexities of the human condition in favor of easily comprehended slogans, it is heartening to see other countries making strides toward dealing with the stickiest problems with bold ideas.

Cheers.
posted by sic at 12:42 AM on September 17, 2003


Hence it makes as much sense to provide heroin users with shooting galleries as it does to provide you and your husband with a shooting gallery.

Except the shooting ranges we go to are not paid for by tax dollars. They are privately owned businesses which we pay out of our own pockets to use.

And really, how many heroin users do you think will take their illegal drugs into a government run building? If it would work to actually get people off of heroin I'd be all for it. In fact, I actually just commented on this thread due to the gun remarks, not about the 'shooting gallery for addicts.'
posted by SuzySmith at 4:33 AM on September 17, 2003


She fights that demon at least once a week and I'm proud of her for not giving into it more than one or two times a year.

I'm intrigued by this, Joey Michaels. I was under the impression (probably from suspect sources) that once an ex-addict succumbs to that urge, it's immediately like being physically dependent once again - you have to go through all the steps to get "clean" as you did the first time you quit. If you don't mind my asking, is this not true in your experience? Your partner can slip up, but is able to end the slip immediately?
posted by deadcowdan at 6:07 AM on September 17, 2003


deadcowdan: If you are in the middle of withdrawals and you dose, you're pretty much back to step one. After withdrawals, depending upon how long you've abstained, you can use occasionally without fear of addiction.

People with previous opiate habits do develop tolerance much faster than opi-newbies, as the opioid receptors grown in the brain when one becomes addicted don't go away. They just lay dormant until they're needed again. "Much faster" means a week or two of constant use rather than a month.

The only way one shot can throw you back into a physical addiction is if it is done in celebration of a detox completed the day before.
posted by bunnytricks at 8:14 AM on September 17, 2003


Two of the biggest problems for drug addicts is the quality of the drug and the amount of income they need to sustain their habit.

The quality of the drug is important since it's the impurities that lead to all sorts of severe physical harm to the user.
The price of the drug and the cost to maintain the habit is importatnt since this is a cause of significant amounts of crime.

This scheme is nice, i suppose, but doesn't address either of these important concerns, which once addressed, can lead to the stabilisation of an addict's' life, in conjunction with good counselling, and allow them to hold down a job, keep their home and family and eventually free themselves from the drug.
posted by Blue Stone at 8:14 AM on September 17, 2003


A truly enlightened scheme would be severalfold:

A) Government-operated safe houses for drug use, with medical staff on-hand to deal with emergencies.

B) Government-operated drug sales at the site, with guarantee of purity and a price that reduces the need to steal to fund the addiction.

C) Government-operated counselling and rehab, so that those wishing to get off the addiction can do so.

I really don't believe many people are so desperate as to want to be addicted. Give them an easy opportunity to turn their lives around, and don't penalize them if they fall down again, and they'll actually try to become functional members of society.

Drug addiction ain't a satisfying, fulfilling, glamorous life. Give 'em a chance to do better and they likely will.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:30 AM on September 17, 2003


deadcowdan: I'm intrigued by this, Joey Michaels. I was under the impression (probably from suspect sources) that once an ex-addict succumbs to that urge, it's immediately like being physically dependent once again - you have to go through all the steps to get "clean" as you did the first time you quit. If you don't mind my asking, is this not true in your experience? Your partner can slip up, but is able to end the slip immediately?

bunnytrick's reply sort of answered your question, but to elaborate...

She has been participating in a methadon maintenance program for 8 years, which means she has an opiate in her system all the time. When she relapses (not due to a physical need, but due to any number of psychological triggers) she gets all the guilt of the relapse but does not need to go through withdrawal to stop.

However, her brother (who has been doing it for 25 years) recently went through detox (after pissing through - and I am not making this up - a $500,000 inheritance in six months), was clean for about a week, relapsed and is not living on the street addicted and broke.

The methadon clinic, as expensive as it is, has been a real life saver for her.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:40 AM on September 17, 2003


Except the shooting ranges we go to are not paid for by tax dollars.
don't forget that those tax dollars came out of your pocket.

Like most morally upright (uptight?) cities, the Politicians and The City of Vancouver for over 10 years ignored the issue of drugs and addiction. They abandoned a huge area to the users, an area that has suffered greatly from neglect. What is left is a zoo-like situation where most people have to let their eyes go out of focus just to drive through it, never mind what it's like for the people who live there. This clinic is the City finally reestablishing responsibility for managing that neighborhood. There's so little else left to develop in the downtown core that it was inevitable that efforts would be made to clean the neighborhood up for future developments. Thankfully this clinic may be a first step to a more European approach to the problem. And it may result in what I hope for, free drugs for addicts so property crimes go down, and the neighborhood integrated back into the City of Vancouver. No, I am not sympathetic to users. I've seen many friends lives destroyed as a result of heroin, and cried a few times for some who are dead. Sympathy solves nothing. Users will use, the only rational way to solve the problem is to manage them. This clinic is good management.

As far as the gun issue goes, well the fact is per capita gun deaths in the US says it all. In the US you're anywhere from 14.5 to 120 times more likely to die a gun death than most other countries in the world. Through the 90's every 5 minutes someone was killed with a handgun (never mind all the other gun deaths). -the thought of finding blood spurting out of a bullet hole in my body because some stupid fcuker with a gun shot me, as a Canadian visiting friends in the US, always makes me sympathize with US citizens that are against gun ownership.- yes we do have gun deaths here, "about 75% of handguns and all automatic weapons used for violent crimes in Canada are either smuggled or stolen." (smuggled from down south, unfortunately I couldn't find the stat that differentiates between smuggled and stolen)...
posted by giantkicks at 12:35 PM on September 17, 2003


Except the shooting ranges we go to are not paid for by tax dollars. They are privately owned businesses which we pay out of our own pockets to use. -missed the important part- Taxes come out of "our own pockets" and my portion gladly goes to good management any day.
posted by giantkicks at 12:42 PM on September 17, 2003


Joey Michaels, is buprenorphine (see also here) an option for your partner or her brother?
posted by stonerose at 1:13 PM on September 17, 2003


stonerose: Hmmm. It would certainly save her some time if she didn't have to drive to the clinic every single day. There are a few doctors in our area who can prescribe this. I will mention it to her.

As for her brother, he isn't a good candidate for methadon or buprenorphine because he, in my opinion, isn't really willing to quit shooting up. When we got him on the same program she was on, it just allowed him to hit higher highs... for a little while until the program dumped him. They regular give the participants UAs and if you're dirty too often, you're gone.

In addition, her brother would probably want to sell the buprenorphine. My partner used to get methadon "take homes," but they proved too tempting a source of fast cash for her brother. (who is no longer allowed in our apartment)

Anyhow, thanks again for the links. She will read this with great interest, I imagine.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:41 PM on September 17, 2003


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