Mythbusting anti-SCS roasts
I don’t normally do much with the roasts and toasts in the Lethbridge Herald, but there were several today that criticized the local supervised consumption site, so I thought I’d address some of the points they raised.
Here we go.
We all know there is nothing “safe” when it comes to drugs and opioids and supervising this deadly habit only increases the many dangers that affect our beautiful city and negatively impacts the livelihoods and safety of each one of us. When will we taxpayers finally be “heard”?
First, it’s not called a safe consumption site; it’s called a supervised consumption site. I’m not sure why people keep using the other phrase.
Supervising drug use does not increase dangers in the city, nor does it negatively impact every person’s livelihood in the city. Supervising people who use drugs means that there is literally less drug use than if the SCS didn’t exist.
Between 28 February 2018 and 31 December 2019, there were 373,956 visits at the SCS. Assuming all those visits were for drug consumption, that’s over 370,000 instances of drug use that didn’t happen in public. That means fewer overdose deaths in public, fewer needles and other drug paraphernalia in public, and fewer instances of drug usage in public.
Having a supervised consumption site actually improves the quality of life in the city.
Roast to the SCS for administering Naloxone over and over again to a drug user who has no intention of quitting. As I see it, the SCS is not helping the situation, only prolonging the inevitable, as these users just don’t care and will never become a useful part of our society. My question is why is our health-care system supporting this? It’s time our civic and provincial governments do something and for starters shut it down.
Of course the SCS is helping the situation. They are keeping people alive. There is value in stopping people from dying.
And since when did we determine that a person’s worth is based on their utility to society? Does that mean every person in a persistent vegetative state should be killed? How about everyone who is born with a debilitating condition that prevents them from taking care of themselves, or who contracts or develops one later in life?
That sounds like eugenics to me.
Our health care system supports supervised consumptions sites because they prevent deaths, they reduce disease transmission, they reduce drug litter, they reduce public drug usage, and they reduce healthcare costs by reducing drug-related hospital visits and EMS calls for service.
It’s not time for the governments to shut down the SCS; doing so will make the drug crisis worse in Lethbridge: more deaths, more drug litter, more health risk to the public, and higher healthcare costs.
The SCS should go and bed detox more needed. The SCS is just perpetuating and increasing the drug problem and crime is escalating.
The SCS shouldn’t go, but I do agree that we need more detox spaces.
The SCS is not perpetuating the drug crisis, let alone causing it to increase. I could see that maybe being the case if they were providing drugs, but they’re not. The drug crisis was in Lethbridge for years before the SCS opened. They opened in the middle of a drug crisis that was already escalating.
Crime has indeed increased in Lethbridge, but I’m not sure I’d say “escalating”. The crime severity index for the Lethbridge region in 2018 was 158.68, the highest it’s been since 1999. The CSI for 2019 has yet to be released. However, we must remember that this index has been increasing in Lethbridge since 2014. For example, the CSI for 2018 increased by 13.05% over 2017, and while that seems like a lot, it went up by 13.42% in 2015, 15.94% in 2017, and 24.35% in 2014. Since the CSI started rising in 2014, the 2018 rise was the second slowest increase. If the SCS is causing crime to go up, we should see the 2018 CSI increasing dramatically, not slowing.
It appears our elected officials choose not to listen to the people of this once decent city and allow and further this SCS to continue, resulting in crime escalation etc., drug use is a criminal problem and should be imprisoned or forced into rehab where they will be required to kick the habit and not allowed to repeat.
Except plenty of people support the SCS. Hundreds of supporters came out the rally last summer. So, yes, they are listening to the people.
Crime is not escalating, and certainly not because of the SCS. See my previous comment.
Drug use is a criminal problem only because it’s against the law. Decriminalize it, and it’s no longer a criminal problem. Possessing marijuana used to be a criminal problem; now it’s not. We could do the same thing with other drugs. We make some drugs legal (such as marijuana, tobacco, alcohol, and prescription drugs), yet others we don’t. It doesn’t make sense.
Imprisoning people who use drugs doesn’t work. We’ve been trying that for over 50 years. Yet we still have drugs. We’re in the middle of a drug crisis. All while drugs have been illegal and people have been imprisoned for using, possessing, and dealing drugs. But drug usage is still happening.
Forcing people into rehab is a dangerous precedent. Should we force people into certain diets so we can avoid having to pay for diet-related health issues? Should we force diabetic people to take insulin, so we don’t have to treat them for shock? Should we force people with cancer into treatment, so we don’t need to pay for their palliative care? We shouldn’t be deciding what health care people should and should not take.
To the people responsible for continuing the SCS, a total waste of resources which could be put to better use. They have cause a complete fiasco with our ambulances in that every time an O.D. drugee gets responded to by our EMS crews there is one or more crew that is taken out of the response system and causes a shortage.
The SCS is not a waste of resources, for the several reasons I’ve already outlined above: saves lives, reduces disease transmission, reduces public health risks, reduces drug litter, and reduces health care costs.
Regarding EMS responding to overdoses, by having a supervised consumption site, we have fewer EMS responses to overdoses. The SCS has trained medical staff who are fully capable for responding to overdoses on their own, reducing the need for EMS intervention.
Between 28 February 2018 and 31 December 2019, 3,130 medical emergencies occurred at the SCS. For every 10 overdoses occurring in the SCS, 8–9 of them never require EMS personnel. The vast majority of overdoses in the SCS are handled by the SCS personnel. That’s literally thousands of overdoses since the SCS opened that EMS personnel haven’t had to respond to. If the SCS didn’t exist, EMS call volumes would most definitely be higher.
The problem with roasts like these is that perpetuate myths they’ve heard without researching the validity of those myths. And so they continue on, and people keep repeating them, until they confuse them for truth.
People who oppose the Lethbridge supervised consumption site care more about ideology than they do facts.
Originally published at siever.ca/kim on February 18, 2020.