There have been many letters for and against the overdose prevention room at Aids Vancouver Island on 6th Street in Courtenay, but it was the letter entitled “Intolerance should be the beginning of conversations, not the end” where the headline grabbed me.
This letter was about racism, but the quote is also very appropriate for the treatment of those suffering from substance abuse.
There have been many conversations on the paper’s website as people respond to the letters about the safe injection room, and that is a start, only positive things can come from the discussion as people learn more. Fear comes from a lack of understanding, and that fear turns in to stigma that feeds the addiction cycle.
The more people talk, the more people learn, the less fear there is, and it gets better for everyone. Everyone in this community suffers when someone they know directly or indirectly is affected by substance abuse. The fact is that the safe injection site that is thought of so negatively (by some) save lives, prevents the spread of disease, and educates in many harm reduction philosophies and practices. The staff also performs community outreach to homeless street people and is the only organization in the substance abuse community that actively participates in daily searches for sharps and other substance use paraphernalia. More services are required like this, not less. Imagine the losses in this community if the service was not there, imagine how many needles you might find on the streets, and in the alleys if the services were not in place, imagine the elevated number of cases or Hep C or HIV in the community if the harm reduction services were not in place. Before you spread negativity, take the time to learn more, and see the difference these services make in the community.