Originally, safety injection sites were created in response to the growing death rates among drug addicts. The problem was very serious, taking into consideration the fact that drug addicts could be treated and, therefore, the life could be saved if they got an opportunity to get safe injections or a professional supervision, which could prevent them from overdosing and other problems related to the process of taking drugs. On the other hand, the creation of safe injection sites was a real challenge to the public morale and the sites evoke a strong opposition from the conservative part of the public because many people considered safety injection sites unsafe for the public and, what is more, they viewed these sites as a threat to the local communities. In fact, the arguments concerning safety injection sites persist till present days and, even though safety injections sites have started in the early 2000s, they have already gained a large number of supporters as well as opponents. At the same time, the creation of safety injection sites is rather a positive than negative trend.
Benefits of safe injection sites
Prevention of overdose
On analyzing possible effects of safe injection sites, it is necessary to underline the fact that potentially the sites have a number of benefits which make them not only safe but also helpful for drug addicts. In this respect, one of the major problems practically all addicts face is the problem of overdose. In actuality, this problem naturally arises as drug users grow more and more addicted to drugs. Gradually, they need to increase the dose in order to get a desirable effect of taking drugs, though on the late stages of the drug addiction, the consumption of drugs becomes a physiological necessity and lower doses do not help drug addicts. As a result, the longer an individual takes drugs the higher is the risk of overdose, though beginner addicts are also exposed to the risk of overdose because they cannot properly define what dose they actually need.
In such a context, it is worth mentioning the fact that overdose is one of the major causes of drug addicts (Safe injection site should continue, B.C. criminologists report, 2006). However, the main problem with overdose is that drug addicts have no one to provide them essential medical aid in case of overdose. In this respect, safe injection sites are very helpful because they provide drug addicts with the possibility to receive urgent medical aid right on the site. Many specialists (Schneider and Steover, 2000) argue that cases of overdose occur even in the safe injection sites, but lethal outcomes of overdose are few because health care professionals can save the life of a drug addict.
Therefore, it is possible to estimate that safe injection sites are needed because they can decrease substantially the risk of death of drug addicts because of the overdose. Such a minimization of risk of overdose does not only save the life of drug addicts but can help them change their lifestyle at large.
Prevention of diseases
Another serious problem drug addicts can face while taking drugs out of the safe injection site is the problem of catching an infectious disease. In this respect, it is possible to speak not only about the safety of drug addicts but also about the public safety at large, because the spread of infectious diseases affects not only drug users but their social environment too. At this point, the beneficial effects of safe injection sites proves to be beyond a doubt because drug addicts attending these sites can be examined and if they get any infectious disease they can receive the adequate treatment which can be effective enough to improve their health as well as protect the further spread of the infection.
Today, the spread of AIDS-HIV is probably the major threat which drug addicts are exposed to. At the same time, the safe injection sites eliminate this threat. It is important to underline that such infectious disease as AIDS-HIV can lead to the death of drug addicts and this disease is widely spread among drug addicts that naturally exposes the entire society to the epidemic spread of AIDS nationwide (Van Beek, 2004). Consequently, the public should be interested in the wider spread of safe injection sites because the sites decrease the threat to the public health.
Possibility of assistance to addicts and their recovery
As it has been already mentioned above, safe injection sites provide drug addicts with the essential medical aid and, what is more important, drug addicts can receive urgent medical aid in case of overdose or other serious health problems. In such a way, drug addicts are not left alone in face of their health problems. At the same time, contemporary safe injection sites open larger opportunities for drug addicts to change their lifestyle consistently. In fact, while attending safe injection sites they can receive ample information about negative effects of drugs on their health. Moreover, they can even take a decision to start the treatment in order to stop using drugs and the clinical environment contributes to the formation of a conviction that drug addiction is not a sentence for a person using drugs and any drug addict can be treated. Consequently, along with provision of essential health care services and medical aid, safe injection sites create favorable conditions for the recovery of drug addicts and their rehabilitation and return to the normal social life.
Drawbacks of safe injection sites
The risk of increasing crime rates
One of the major arguments of the opponents of safe injection site (Donnelly and Snowball, 2006) was the belief that the creation of such sites will lead to the growth of crime rates in the area because the sites will attract drug addicts, who are inclined to deviant behavior, especially if they need to take drugs and do not have money to buy them. In this respect, it is necessary to agree with critics of safe injection sites because drug addicts are a group of a high risk which is susceptible to the commitment of drug-related crimes. In fact, any person using drugs is more likely to behave aggressively compared to an average person who does not consume drugs.
Nevertheless, the existing statistics proves the fact that safe injection sites do not provoke the rapid growth of crime rates. In fact, even if the number of crimes increases, the growth is insignificant. In addition, it worth mentioning the fact that safe injection sites can help to control drug addicts because it is possible to define the number of drug addicts and work with them to prevent their deviant behavior.
Safe injection sites encourage other people to start taking drugs
In actuality, the public often opposes to the creation of safe injection sites because of the existing belief that these sites can provoke other people, who do not take drugs, to start taking drugs, since safe injection sites insures the safety of drug addicts. At this point, it is possible to speak about certain provocative effect of safe injection sites, but, on the other hand, it is necessary to mention that the sites can have the opposite effect. To put it more precisely, when people see drug addicts they can understand perfectly well where the drug addiction can lead them to, while, when they do not see drug addicts, they remain unconscious of possible negative effects of the drug addiction or even create an erroneous view on the drug addiction as a positive phenomenon.
Thus, it is possible to conclude that safe injection sites can be very useful and helpful not only for drug addicts but also for the public. In actuality, the public should not reject drug addicts. Instead, it is necessary to integrate them into a normal social life, protect them and help them overcome their addiction. In this respect, safe injection sites prove to be quite effective, while risks accompanying the creation of the sites are often exaggerated and unjustified.