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US: Watchful Eyes: At Peer-Run Injection Sites, Drug Users Help Each Other Stay Safe - WUWF

Found: Fri Jul 13 20:28:51 2018 PDT
Webpage: [translate]
Author: Doctors And Nurses, but by drug users themselves

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Watchful Eyes: At Peer-Run Injection Sites, Drug Users Help Each Other Stay Safe

By Gabriel Spitzer - 4 hours ago


View Slideshow 1 of 7

A drug user prepares a hit of heroin inside VANDU's supervised injection room.

Rafal Gerszak for NPR

View Slideshow 2 of 7

Hugh Lampkin, speaks with users inside a supervised injection room in Vancouver, British Columbia. Run by Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), it's a place where peers help each use drugs safely.

Rafal Gerszak for NPR

View Slideshow 3 of 7

A drug user prepares to inject himself with heroin inside VANDU's supervised injection room.

Rafal Gerszak for NPR

View Slideshow 4 of 7

Hugh Lampkin, left, watches over the supervised injection room inside VANDU in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, British Columbia.

Rafal Gerszak for NPR

View Slideshow 5 of 7

Lampkin says when he was at a low point in his struggles with addiction, VANDU provided him with support through groups and meetings.

Elana Gordon/WHYY

View Slideshow 6 of 7

A user receives intravenous injection supplies at VANDU in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, British Columbia.

Rafal Gerszak for NPR

View Slideshow 7 of 7

A drug user prepares a hit of heroin inside VANDU's supervised injection room.

Rafal Gerszak for NPR



Originally published on July 13, 2018 7:59 pm

People who use injection drugs in Vancouver, British Columbia, can do so, if they choose, under the watchful eyes of someone trained to help them if they overdose.

This is the idea behind supervised injection sites, and it's an approach that over a dozen U.S. cities or states are considering to prevent drug overdose deaths and the spread of disease.

Public health authorities in Vancouver, Canada, have run a supervised drug use center, Insite, since 2003. And as the death toll reaches record levels -- 1,422 people died of overdose in British Columbia in 2017 -- new grassroots sites are popping up, run not by doctors and nurses, but by drug users themselves.

The injection room

In a storefront in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside neighborhood, drug users can find the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users or VANDU, as it's known.

Just inside the front door sits a virtual salad bar of drug supplies -- clean needles, candles, sanitizer pads. People lounge on mismatched couches, napping or huddled in conversation. Posters on the walls pay tribute to members of the community who have succumbed to overdose.

Another poster shows a hand-drawn body with the safest places to inject colored in green and riskier body parts in red.

The site has literature available on treatment options which supervisors will share when people ask.

Down a short hall in the back, there's a small room with a wide glass window, a few tables and half a dozen chairs.

"This is the injection room we have," says Hugh Lampkin, a supervisor at this site and vice president of VANDU.

Lampkin explains how a trained attendant keeps watch as people use drugs and administers an antidote if somebody overdoses.

As he talks, a wiry man with a black goatee pops his head out of the injection room. The attendant hands him a large mirror.

"One of the big things is, they call it 'jugging.' After a while it's really hard to find veins on your legs or your arm. So you have your jugular at your throat," Lampkin says.

This is an especially dangerous practice. The user could easily hit an artery and cause a stroke.

"We try and discourage it, but if they're set on it, why not give them the education to do it properly," Lampkin says.

Why help someone do something so risky? Staff here say people would be doing it anyway, with fewer precautions. That's the idea behind harm reduction, a philosophy of meeting drug users where they are to try to minimize negative consequences of drug use, which often means helping them stay alive.

In this case, it means teaching the heroin user to watch what he's doing.

The wiry man props the mirror up on a chair, sinks to all fours, and examines his throat closely. Moments later, with the attendant watching through glass, he slips the needle in.

Run by users

Lampkin got involved with VANDU at a particularly low point of his own struggles with addiction. He has been a heroin user off and on for most of his life. At the time, VANDU was primarily an advocacy organization for drug users that hosted meetings and support groups. He joined a meeting there one day.

"I was telling a bunch of strangers my life story, and it was something I'd never done before," he recalls. "After that just about everybody came up and either hugged me or shook my hand."

He says finding that support was transformative.

"It was like you're in a dish, and the glass comes off the dish, and I could actually see and feel the darkness lifting off of me," he says.

As the public health system here became overwhelmed by new cheap and potent synthetic opioids, that caused a spike in the death toll, VANDU and other groups of drug users started to launch their own supervised injection sites. For the past several years, the drug fentanyl has been a leading cause of overdose deaths.

These peer-run sites have the support of public health authorities and law enforcement in Vancouver. In fact, Vancouver's public health agency is their main source of funding.

Lampkin thinks they offer some advantages over the official sites run by authorities.

"If you put this up against another service provider where you have a PhD or a psychologist, I would put my money on a place like this," Lampkin says.

He explains that users are more comfortable here than in more clinical settings. There's no paperwork here, there are fewer rules and, since it is run by peers, there's no judgment or stigma.

Health authorities say that's important.

"These community agencies and groups of peers and associations of drug users, they're the ones who are making the innovations. They're telling us what to do," says Mark Lysyshyn, medical health officer at Vancouver Coastal Health, a government-run public health agency.

"They showed us how to create pop-up supervised injection sites. They know the community, they know where to put these things. So they've been able to solve a lot of problems," Lysyshyn says.

The agency is planning to open several new injection sites attached to existing health clinics in the near future.

Injection drug use is still illegal in Vancouver -- but Vancouver police say they support the supervised injection sites; they don't arrest drug users there. In the U.S., the Drug Enforcement Agency has taken a very different tack. They contend these sites facilitate illegal activity, and warn that anyone operating one could face "legal action."

Stemming the death toll

In Vancouver, supervised injection sites enjoy wide support. And people who use them say they're saving lives.

"Without this place, people would be dead all over," says Darren, who goes to an injection site supervised by peers almost every day. (NPR is omitting these drug users last names.)

"This is a great place -- and it saved me a couple days ago," he says. "I did a shot of meth and I was crying, and these guys really care about you here. They really do."

Still, some users have mixed feelings. One man, Cameron, says he was a successful businessman before he got addicted to heroin.

He supports the sites and volunteers at one of them. But he says working there can be hard, especially seeing people nearly die from overdoses.

"Whether you see it or not, it does, it affects you, when you see somebody that's almost dead, and then he gets up and then he does it again," he says.

Officials in Vancouver say even as overdose deaths have mounted in the city, not one person has died in any of the medical or peer-supervised injection sites.

The chief coroner of British Columbia, Lisa Lapointe, stated that without these sites and the availability of the overdose antidote naloxone, the death toll would be three times higher, according to her office.

Studies of Insite, the government-run site, found that public drug use, drug-related litter and risky behavior such as needle sharing stayed flat or decreased after it opened in 2003 and that there's been an increase in drug users accessing treatment.

Copyright 2018 KNKX Public Radio. To see more, visit KNKX Public Radio.


analysis of article text

prohibitionist hits:0 government drug warrior (prohibition_agency) hits:6 propaganda (drugwar_propaganda) hits:108 legalization hits:0 drug_reformer hits:0 reform_referenda hits:0 cannabis hits:0 stimulant hits:4 narcotic hits:7 hallucinogen hits:0
    prohibitionist     prohibition_agency     drugwar_propaganda     legalization     drug_reformer
    reform_referenda     cannabis     stimulant     narcotic     hallucinogen

incarceration/prison mentioned? NO - the issue of prison or incarceration was NOT mentioned in this article .

propaganda analysis

explicit prohibition propaganda (explicit_propaganda) hits:0 hated group (propaganda_theme1) hits:53 madness, violence, illness (propaganda_theme2) hits:27 survival of society (propaganda_theme3) hits:9 gateway, use is abuse (propaganda_theme4) hits:19 children (propaganda_theme5) hits:0 demonize, war, epidemic (propaganda_theme6) hits:0 total prohibition (propaganda_theme7) hits:0 dissent opposed (propaganda_theme8) hits:0
EXP - explicit prohibition propaganda (explicit_propaganda) GRP - hated group (propaganda_theme1) MAD - madness, violence, illness (propaganda_theme2)
SOC - survival of society (propaganda_theme3) USE - gateway, use is abuse (propaganda_theme4) KID - children (propaganda_theme5)
WAR - demonize, war, epidemic (propaganda_theme6) TOT - total prohibition (propaganda_theme7) DIS - dissent opposed (propaganda_theme8)

 drug of abuse implied / mentioned

drug related
[news] [concept]

harm reduction prohibition agency illegal drugs  
drugwar_propaganda : a drug war propaganda event, campaign release, slogan, or themepropaganda

drugwar propaganda
[news] [concept]

propaganda theme1 propaganda theme2 propaganda theme3 propaganda theme4 Why Are Americans So Easy to Manipulate? (Bruce E Levine, 2012)
Classic Modern Drug Propaganda
Themes in Chemical Prohibition
Drug War Propaganda (kindle edition)
propaganda_theme1 : drug war propaganda theme: hated groupshated group

propaganda theme1
[news] [concept]

"Drug Users" "drug user" "Users" "user"53Hated Groups (propaganda theme 1)
America's Racist Drug laws
Labeling theory
Transfer (propaganda)
 addiction 60%
[news] [concept]
"addiction" "addicted"3Twelve-Step Snake Oil (2012)
Ceremonial Chemistry: The Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts, and Pushers (Thomas Szasz)
Rat Park
Most People With Addiction Simply Grow Out of It: Why Is This Widely Denied? (2014)
propaganda_theme2 : drug war propaganda theme: madness, violence, illness caused by drugsmadness, violence, illness

propaganda theme2 95%
[news] [concept]

"stigma" "drug overdose" "overdose" "overdoses" "harm" "dangerous" "deaths" "death" "problems" "stroke" "disease" addiction24Madness Crime Violence Illness (propaganda theme 2)
Distortion 18: Cannabis and Mental Illness
No, marijuana use doesn't lower your IQ (10/2014)
propaganda_theme3 : drug war propaganda theme: survival of societysurvival of society

propaganda theme3 75%
[news] [concept]

"community" "neighborhood" "Public health"9Survival of Society (propaganda theme 3)
The "Nation" as a Device To Create a Psychological Crowd
 use is abuse

use is abuse 60%
[news] [concept]

"Drug Users" "drug user" "drug use"19Use is Abuse (propaganda theme 4)
propaganda_theme4 : drug war propaganda theme: all use is abuse, gatewaygateway, use is abuse

propaganda theme4 60%
[news] [concept]

use is abuse Use is Abuse, Gateway (propaganda theme 4)
 drug of abuse

illegal drugs
[news] [concept]

various illegal drugs addiction narcotic stimulant  
 drugs 95%
[news] [concept]
various drugs  
prohibition_agency : various drug prohibition and propaganda agencies and police; tax-supported entities dependent on continuing prohibitiongovernment drug warrior

prohibition agency
[news] [concept]

"police" "law enforcement" "Enforcement Agency" "Drug Enforcement Agency" "Drug Enforcement"6Drug Enforcement Administration
The Top Five Special Interest Groups Lobbying To Keep Marijuana Illegal
 harm reduction
[news] [concept]
"harm reduction" injection
Distortion 4: Harm Reduction
 supervised injection center

injection center
[news] [concept]

"injection room" "Injection Sites" "injection site"
 psychoactive chemical

[news] [concept]

heroin methamphetamine amphetamines opiate
 psychoactive pharmaceutical

[news] [concept]

fentanyl naloxone
 euphoric depressant
[news] [concept]
heroin opiate  
 euphoric stimulant
[news] [concept]
[news] [concept]
fentanyl heroin opiate  
[news] [concept]
opioid : opiate-like but synthetic drugsopioid

[news] [concept]

"opioids"1Managing Pain
[news] [concept]
[news] [concept]
"meth" "glass"
Amphetamines: The Swedish experience
[news] [concept]
opioid opiate Managing Pain
opiate : a substance derived from the opium poppyopiate
[news] [concept]
heroin Managing Pain
 naloxone - opioid overdose antidote

[news] [concept]

"naloxone" injection.html
amphetamines : various amphetaminesamphetamines
[news] [concept]
methamphetamine The amphetamines - Consumers Union Report
Officially Approved US Military Speed/Amphetamine Use
[news] [concept]
Managing Pain

[news] [concept]

 various drugs 95%
[news] [concept]
"Drug" "drugs" "drug-related"30 
 various illegal drugs 60%
[news] [concept]
"drug-related" "Drug Users" "drug user" "drug overdose"
DEA's Drugs of Abuse booklet
 aggrandizing government

[news] [concept]

"official" "Officials" "authorities"6Statism: the Most Dangerous Religion (2014 video)
What is Statism?
Conservapedia: Statism
Wikipedia: Statolatry
Bought Priesthood
Worship of the U. S. Government (2011)
Bureaucratic Thrust
Tyranny of Experts
The Threat of Authority (2012)
The Media As Enablers of Government Lies
The Statist Mindset (Jacob Hornberger, 2011)
Thinking Critically about Experts and Authority
'Scientific' evidence for FDA-approved drugs isn't so scientific, it turns out (2014)
The Intellectual Gravy Train (2015)
 meeting 75%
[news] [concept]
"a meeting" "meetings" "meeting"5TAKE ACTION - Here's how!
Delphi Technique - Fake Consensus (2016)

st:0.01 fo:0 s:0 d:0 c:0 db:0.175 a:0.57 m:0.55 t:1.59 (f)

text of article used for CRITICAL ANALYSIS, under FAIR USE provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107, et al.

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    article tags


    meeting concept - scheduled meeting, talk, or conference
    aggrandizement concept - terms of aggrandizement (of government)
    various_illegal_drugs concept - general terms for illegal drugs
    various_drugs concept - general terms for drugs
    fentanyl concept - Fentanyl is a short-acting synthetic opiate analgesic which is active at very low doses. Its effects are compared to heroin and it has been sold on the street as heroin, causing some deaths. (N-(1-phenethyl-4-piperidyl)propionanilide)
    heroin concept - heroin, heroine, diamorphine
    amphetamines concept - various amphetamines
    naloxone concept - naloxone hydrochloride is an opioid antagonist which prevents or reverses the effects of opioids
    opiate concept - a substance derived from the opium poppy
    narcotic concept - a drug that dulls senses, relieves pain, induces sleep
    methamphetamine concept - methamphetamine
    stimulant concept - a substance that produces stimulation
    opioid concept - opiate-like but synthetic drugs
    anesthetic concept
    analgesic concept
    euphoric_stimulant concept
    euphoric_depressant concept
    pharms concept - Psychoactive Pharmaceuticals are over-the-counter or prescription chemicals approved for human medicinal use, with mind- or emotion-altering properties
    chemicals concept - Psychoactive Chemicals are chemicals which have mind- or emotion-altering properties.
    injection_center concept - a supervised facility where injecting drug users may inject with medical staff on standby
    harm_reduction concept - harm reduction
    prohibition_agency concept - various drug prohibition and propaganda agencies and police; tax-supported entities dependent on continuing prohibition
    drugs concept
    illegal_drugs concept - drugs of abuse, so-called
    propaganda_theme4 concept - drug war propaganda theme: all use is abuse, gateway
    use_is_abuse concept - drug war propaganda theme: all use is abuse
    propaganda_theme3 concept - drug war propaganda theme: survival of society
    propaganda_theme2 concept - drug war propaganda theme: madness, violence, illness caused by drugs
    addiction concept - addition or drug dependency
    propaganda_theme1 concept - drug war propaganda theme: hated groups
    drugwar_propaganda concept - a drug war propaganda event, campaign release, slogan, or theme
    drug_related concept - related to illegal drugs and prohibition