Public Health in Action
Public Health in Action
Safe Injection Sites
What do you think some pros and cons of Safe
injection sites are?
A safe injection site is a
legally sanctioned and
supervised facility which is
designed to reduce the
health risk associated with
taking illegal drugs
intravenously (i.e. heroin).
They are also thought to
reduce the public
with these types of drugs
and the drug litter.
Where are they located?
There are very few in
existence. The majority
are in Europe.
The European safe
injection sites are simply
drug consumption rooms,
which means it is a place to
legally inject drugs and
safely dispose of needles.
There are no health care
workers associated with
There are no safe injection
sites in the United States.
There is one in Sydney,
There is one in Vancouver,
These sites are staffed by
They have safety
equipment in case of
Insite is Canada’s first and
only safe injection site (the
only one in North
It is in the downtown
eastside neighbourhood of
Vancouver, which in 2000,
had approximately 4700
The B.C. provincial
government says this area
is the “center of a drug
injection epidemic in
The site provides a clean,
safe location for
injection drug use,
cocaine, and morphine.
Medical staff are present
to provide addiction
health assistance, and
first aid in the event of
an overdose or wound.
Insite Stats – All in one year!
From January 1 to December 31, 2010, there were:
312,214 visits to the site by 12,236 unique individuals
An average of 855 visits daily, up to a maximum of 1,110
An average of 587 injections daily
221 overdose interventions with no fatalities
3,383 clinical treatment interventions
26% of participants were women
17% of participants identified as Aboriginal
Principle substances reported were heroin (36% of
instances), cocaine (32%) and morphine (12%)
5,268 referrals to other social and health services,
the vast majority of them were for detox and addiction
458 admissions to OnSite detox
Health Canada has
provided $500,000 per
year to operate the site,
and the BC Ministry of
$1,200,000 to renovate
the site and cover
Insite was initially run as a three year pilot project from 2003-
2006, however the provincial government extended its use to
In 2008, Health Minister, Tony Clement, wanted it shut down,
but the BC Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting
possession and trafficking of drugs were unconstitutional
because they denied drug users access to Insite's health
services, so Insite is still open today under a constitutional
exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Recently the Supreme Court of Canada upheld this decision
(September 29th 2011) after lawyers in BC started to make a
stink about it.
Insite Supporters and Detractors FYI
The current mayor and former
mayor of Vancouver
The Premier of B.C.
The Vancouver Police
International AIDS society and
the BC Centre for Excellence in
Chinatown and Gastown
Australian Parliamentary Group
for Drug Law Reform
Senlis Council from the U.K.
Bush Administration (called
it “state-run suicide”)
The Canadian Police
The federal conservative
government under Stephen
Insite is leading to increased uptake into detoxification
programs and addiction treatment. (New England Journal of
Insite has not led to an increase in drug-related crime, rates
of arrest for drug trafficking, assaults and robbery were similar
after the facility’s opening, and rates of vehicle break-ins/theft
declined significantly. (Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention,
Insite has reduced the number of people injecting in public
and the amount of injection-related litter in the downtown
eastside. (Canadian Medical Association Journal)
Insite is attracting the highest-risk users – those more likely
to be vulnerable to HIV infection and overdose, and who were
contributing to problems of public drug use and unsafe
syringe disposal. (American Journal of Preventive Medicine)
Insite has reduced overall rates of needle sharing in the
community, and among those who used the supervised
injection site for some, most or all of their injections, 70%
were less likely to report syringe sharing. (The Lancet)
Nearly one-third of Insite users received information
relating to safer injecting practices. Those who received
help injecting from fellow injection drug users on the
streets were more than twice as likely to have received
safer injecting education at Insite. (The International
Journal of Drug Policy)
Insite is not increasing rates of relapse among former
drug users, nor is it a negative influence on those seeking
to stop drug use. (British Medical Journal)
Insite is preventing overdose deaths and reducing
hospital visits (The International Journal of Drug Policy)
Money goes away from where it can otherwise be used
and is put into housing drug addicts.
It supports the habits of drug users and makes it easier
for them to administer the drugs without fear of
reprisal from the police.
May cause drug users to immigrate to that
city/neighbourhood which people think will affect
safety as well as lower property values.
Future Injection Sites in Canada?
Ottawa and Toronto are
investigating whether a
safe injection site in some
of their neighbourhoods
with heavy drug use and
crime would benefit the
The Ontario government
wants to put three in
Toronto and two in
Would you want a safe
injection site in your city?
What do you think the most common answer is?