The following 'harm reduction response' has been inspired by UnitingCare ReGen's proactive response to negative media reports of needles/syringes in community settings. This 'letter' provides a template for similar action by relevant bodies based in the UK (harm reduction agencies, drug and alcohol workers, drug users).
Earlier this month, the National Needle Exchange Forum (NNEF), the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), and the newly formed Public Health England (PHE) announced a country-wide survey of needle and syringe programmes – the first in this country for eight years. This survey will provide the most complete picture possible in terms of service coverage, quality, interventions and equipment, and models (such as specialist fixed sites, pharmacy programmes, mobile units and outreach). But the survey will only work if people take part – so please take the time to contribute to this important work.
Over the last 6-7 years, in my role as a university-based researcher, I have been given privileged access to a number of Needle and Syringe Programmes (NSP) throughout England. Throughout this time, a large number of organisations and individuals have assisted me in carrying out research concerning injecting drug use that takes place in public settings (such as toilets, car parks, green areas, derelict property etc). This assistance has permitted me to carry out observational research within NSP, to make contact with injecting drug users regarding their experiences of public injecting drug use and to identify harms associated with this practice. From this work I have been able to make a number of harm reduction recommendations regarding the harm production effect of public injecting drug use.
As I'm sure most people who read this site will know Mephedrone has been around for a few years now and it is one of the wide range of new and emerging drugs, some legal, some not that people are experimenting with, using recreationally or in some cases developing a dependency on.
One of the questions and fears that has been around has been which of these, if any, will people inject and what will be the consequences and risks if they do.
Adrienne Hurst from the 'All Treatment' site recently got in touch with me to ask if I'd seen her interview with Dr. Gabor Maté about his work at the Insite Supervised Injecting Facility and his book 'In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts' (which by the way is a fantastic read about his time at Insite). Adrienne has been kind enough to allow me to reprint her interview here for you all to see.