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).
Last week I had the opportunity to visit the world’s most advanced drug consumption rooms. It’s opened in Copenhagen on Sunday 4th August. I was very impressed; because this is the most modern drug consumption room I’ve ever seen.
Although there has been research around the benefits of Low Dead Space (LDS) injecting equipment for a number of years there has been an increasing interest in it recently. Even the New York Times has featured articles on the subject. So it’s clear that now is the ideal time for some innovation in the development of injecting kit.
We’re living in a world where we have access to instant communications, couple this with busy workloads and tools to speed up that communication and it’s no great surprise that a warning you receive will often be sent off to others without you checking out the details (or in a lot of cases without it even being read) Someone is always sending out warnings in this world. But this is a problem…
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.
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.
I’m sure its a common experience of needle programme workers around the UK (even around the world), people asking for 2ml barrels when they are planning to groin inject. But a 2ml isn’t the best equipment for this and it’s a behaviour that we as workers or peer educators need to challenge.
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.