Claims injecting room a failure ‘offensive’

A fight is brewing in Australia over the effectiveness of an supervised injection site:

NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell said today he would vote to close down the injecting room in Kings Cross because it was not helping addicts get into rehabilitation.

His comments follow revelations that 211 referrals to detox and rehabilitation services had resulted from 20,783 visits to the centre in the three months to October 2006.

Ingrid Van Beek, director of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC), said the number of visitors rather than the number of visits was relevant to debate about the centre’s referrals.

She said it was “offensive” to the staff at the centre to imply they would not attempt to refer addicts to rehabilitation programs.

“We have 230 visits a day among drug users who would be otherwise be injecting in back streets, unsupervised, less safe situations,” Dr Van Beek said.

“It’s much more appropriate for us to be looking at what percentage of people that we see have been referred to treatment.”

Dr Van Beek said that in six years, the MSIC had made contact with 10,000 drug users and more than 1000 of them had received referrals for rehabilitation.

Another 11 per cent had been referred to medical treatment, with some going on to receive rehabilitation, she said.

Even her numbers seem pretty difficult to crow about. If it’s not an issue of philosophy, maybe they’re just not vary good at motivating addicts to change?