Sept 19, 2018
Needle Exchange Programmes: Helping Those Who Can’t Help Themselves
In 2016, there were 2800 opioid related deaths in canada. That's more than the amount of canadians who died at the height of the AIDS crisis. Globally, organized crime makes $360 Billion USD on illegal drugs. Gregor Robertson said in a 2018 statement to the press “[Needle exchange programs] make sure anyone with an opiod addiction is able to access safe clean drugs”. Needle exchange programmes (NEPs) benefit canadians by reducing life threatening illnesses among Injection drug users (IDUs) and linking addicted people to resources.
Needle exchange programmes are proven to reduce HIV and hepatitis among IDUs. Injection drug users account for nearly one-third of AIDS cases as well as a substantial amount of Hepatitis B virus and Hepatitis C virus cases. The main form of transmission of these illnesses among injection drug users is multi person use of syringes. A case study in Tacoma, Washington found a six-fold increase of Hepatitis B virus and a seven-fold increase in Hepatitis C virus infection in IDUs associated with their non use of needle exchange programmes. If these IDUs had access to a NEP they would not have these illnesses; NEPs offer Hypodermic needles (and associated paraphernalia) at little to no cost. Aswell, NEPs collect previously used needles, making multi person use of syringes impossible.
Needle exchange programmes link addicted people to resources. In addition to offering syringes for the purpose of self medication, NEP users have access to educational and support groups, showers, laundry, lunch and dinner, testing of common viruses among IDUs, and referrals to healthcare and other social services. Offering these services to IDUs saves taxpayers millions of dollars in the long run. One hypodermic needle on average costs under one dollar, and lifetime HIV/AIDS treatment costs upwards...