Harm reduction reduces deaths

published on October 8, 2016 by Dr. Thomas Kerr in Kamloops This Week

As Kamloops and other municipalities contend with the current overdose epidemic, much discussion has focused on how best to respond. Most experts agree that we need a comprehensive system that includes scaling up access to evidence-based addiction treatment.

However, it would be irresponsible to let people die because we failed to simultaneously implement services, such as supervised injection sites, which have been proven to reduce overdose deaths and are cost-effective.

In criticizing such services, Sharlene Klein (see online letter of Oct. 5: Use health-care dollars on treatment and recovery, not supervised drug-use sites) has grossly misrepresented the research on Insite.

The evaluation of Insite was not clinical trial and more than 2,000 individuals who inject drugs were included the evaluation.

Further, the more than 40 peer-reviewed studies of Insite were authored by dozens of scientists from several Canadian universities “” as well as scientists from the U.S., Britain and Australia.

Unlike the anti-supervised injecting site reports cited by Klein, the research on Insite has been subjected to independent peer review and published in the world’s most prestigious medical and public health journals and has been endorsed by the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nurses Association and the Canadian Public Health Association.

Although more addiction treatment is clearly needed, excluding evidence-based harm reduction programs will do little to save lives and precious healthcare resources.

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