Nearly ten years ago, North America’s first safe-injection site opened in Vancouver, B.C., providing sterile needles and other harm-reducing amenities for struggling addicts. A driving force behind this facility for two years was Hungarian-born author and physician, Dr. Gabor Maté. In his bestselling book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, Dr. Maté shares his experiences working with the down-and-out of Vancouver’s East Side.
Years ago when I started doing harm reduction work it was a very different drug landscape, heroin was the main drug used by people coming into services (after alcohol of course) Most injectors I saw used heroin, and possibly the occasional ‘treat’ of a rock of crack. Of course there where also people injecting steroids and the occasional amphetamine injector but these where far less common. Now though we have the rise of the legal high.
All too often the media representation of drug users is two dimensional at best. The stereotypical representation of drug users in the media can be enormously damaging not only to drug users themselves but also to their family members and has implications for both drug treatment and harm reduction efforts. This article examines three classical stereotypes of drug users utilised by the media and discusses the issues incumbent in them.
At heart I’m a harm reduction kind of person. I’ve spent the last decade working in needle programmes, running a website that provides injecting advice and presenting sessions at conferences promoting harm reduction. For me this work has always had as one of its goals the idea of helping people who want to stop using drugs achieve this. And for the people who don’t want to stop, it’s been about helping them stay safer and, if I can, ‘nudging’ them to the idea of stopping at some time in the future.So the idea that harm reduction and recovery are somehow opposite ends of drugs work has been something I’ve always found confusing.
One of the exercises I do when I’m delivering safer injecting training looks at the most common injecting sites and their associated risks. People are usually quite good at putting the different sites in some kind of order of risk, but when it comes to the feet they often underestimate the dangers.
International overdose awareness day was two weeks ago, but I’m still thinking though all the thoughts it’s brought up for me. Every year thousands of people die leaving behind family and friends. But what support do drug services give the people left behind?
Over the years the advice I’ve given to injectors has developed and changed. Sometimes this is because of new research, and sometimes it’s just because I realise that there is better advice I could be giving. This article explains why I no longer tell steroid injectors that the glute is the best place to inject.
In June 2010 I wrote an article for Injecting Advice concerning fluorescent blue lights (and related harm) in public toilets. That previous article coincided with the publication of an academic paper in the journal Health and Place and both summarised research (from the city of Plymouth, UK) that considered the injecting practices of drug users who had previously accessed toilets lit with blue lights.
The front page of Silk Road looks a lot like an Amazon or an Ebay. Goods and services for sale are categorised. Sellers receive ratings from buyers and comments about the quality of their products, how fast they ship, and the level of professionalism and discreteness of the transaction. Trust in sellers is built on reputation.
Premier Baillieu said in parliament today, ‘I don’t want to be in the business of sending messages to kids … that it’s okay to dabble in drugs’. Baillieu is opposed to SIF ‘based on observation and a detailed look at all of these issues’. Now, I’m not sure what he’s had a detailed look at but it isn’t the evidence.