Ethicist says safe-injection sites are obligation

An ethicist speaks up on Vancouver’s safe-injection sites:

“In my view it would not be acceptable simply to say ‘we don’t agree with drug abuse,” Somerville said Monday.

“It can’t be simply, ‘We have a political platform and our platform is nobody is going to be helped in any way in terms of drug addiction behaviour or illness.’ That would be wrong in my view.”

My impression of the criticism to the safe-injection center is that there are two camps. First, there are those who are indiferent to the fate of addicts and view addiction as a moral failing. The second group (I hope the bigger group.) are concerned about the center as a pessimistic response and wish to see recovery and treatment as the centerpeice of the response to addiction. They want to see more done, not less.

Her statement paints all critics as members of the first camp, unfairly, I think.

“In a lot of the cases we haven’t been successful in use reduction,” Somerville said. “They’re going to use these drugs whether or not we try to stop them. And so the question becomes, ‘If that’s the case what do we need to do ethically in terms of harm reduction?'”

Haven’t we been unsuccessful in harm reduction in a lot of cases? Haven’t users of HR services died of their addiction, gotten sick, and made others sick?

Maybe the solution is to provide recovery-focused HR services and increase access to treatment and recovery support services.