Harm reduction instead of hospital

15 to 20 per cent of emergency room visits in our community are related to those with addiction issues.

I appreciate that resources must be available to those genuinely seeking to break their addiction and all efforts should be directed accordingly.

Here is some information about Insite that supports exactly that wish and addresses other resource issues such as hallway nursing and capacity in our acute care sites.

A recent conversation with a local emergency room nurse identified an anecdotal report that 15 to 20 per cent of emergency room visits in our community are related to those with addiction issues. These visits can be higher close to the end of the month.

Insite does much more than provide clean needles  –  although clean needles decrease infections, wounds, etc. all of which, when left untreated, result in acute care admissions which cost much more than the services provided by a setting such as Insite.

Since opening its doors in 2003, Insite has been a safe, health-focused place where people inject drugs and connect to health care services – from primary care to treat disease and infection, to addiction counseling and treatment, to housing and community supports.

In 2010 alone, Insite counsellors made more than 5,000 referrals to other social and health service agencies, the vast majority of which were for detox and addiction treatment. The calendar year 2010 also saw 458 admissions from Insite into Onsite, the adjoining detox treatment facility which recorded a program completion rate of 43 per cent in 2010.

Before Insite, those with overdoses either died or were sent to ER where expensive treatment is provided only to send them back out to the same situations.

In 2010 Insite provided:  312,214 visits to the site by 12,236 unique individuals;  an average of 855 visits daily, up to a maximum of 1,110 visits daily;  an average of 587 injections daily;  221 overdose interventions with no fatalities.

It is not surprising that an individual who is accepted as “not yet” choosing abstinence, given a safe place with compassionate, caring surroundings might find the motivation to seek treatment.

How can we send people and money to places of harm in other parts of the world and not be actively compassionate at home?

Many a parent has been dismayed that despite their best efforts, their children have been affected by drugs. This can happen to any one of us – let us direct our resources to safe care instead of building jails and hospitals.

Helen Esau Ho