Newsbrief: Australian Safe Injection Room a Success, Say Evaluators 7/25/03

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A review of the safe injection pilot program in Kings Cross in Sydney deems the program a success and clears the way for the $1.6 million per year project to continue. Studying the first 18 months of the center's operation, researchers found that more than 3,800 persons made use of the center, where injection drug users can shoot up under medical supervision and receive access to counseling and treatment. Users visited the site some 56,000 times during the period under study, the researchers found, and registered some 400 on-site overdoses -- but none of them were fatal. The report estimates that the presence of medical staff at the site saved at least four lives.

The Kings Cross safe injection site was first proposed in 1999, but faced lengthy debate and a legal challenge from the business community before opening in May 2001. The New South Wales government gave its approval in an effort to "decrease overdose deaths, provide a gateway to treatment, [and] reduce the problem of discarded needles and users injecting in public places."

According to the evaluation, the site has worked as promised. The evaluation found no negative impact on the community or any evidence of an increase in crime in the area. In fact, public support for the site grew from 68% to 78% during the 18 months, the evaluation revealed. The site made 1,385 referrals to drug treatment, "especially amongst frequent attenders, "the report noted.

According to the British Medical Journal, New South Wales officials will use the favorable evaluation to push for a continuation of the program, and officials in the Australian Capital Territory may do the same. That's not the case with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, apparently a man not inclined to let the facts interfere with his opinions. "I've never supported heroin trials and I've never supported heroin injecting rooms, and this government never will," he said.

The complete 233-page evaluation, conducted by a team led by Dr. John Kaldor, professor of epidemiology and deputy director of the national center of HIV epidemiology at the University of New South Wales, is available online at

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Issue #297, 7/25/03 Editorial: Follow the Undercurrents | Bad Neighbor Policy: Learn All About the Drug War in Latin America through DRCNet's New Book Offer | Historic Medical Marijuana Vote in House -- Support Rises, But Not Yet Enough | House Defeats Effort to Divert Colombia Military Aid, Barely | DRCNet in Action: Grassroots Action on Medical Marijuana and Colombia Votes | DRCNet Interview: Baldomero Cáceres, Advisor to the Confederation of Peruvian Coca Growers | Unapproved Vancouver Safe Injection Site Gets Unwanted Police Attention | Newsbrief: The Opium Files -- Afghanistan at a Record Pace This Year | Newsbrief: The Opium Files -- In Welsh Fields, the Poppies Grew | Newsbrief: The Opium Files -- Feds Find Plantation in Midst of California Forest | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Wisconsin Weedstock Wins Appeals Court Victory | Newsbrief: Australian Safe Injection Room a Success, Say Evaluators | Newsbrief: Spanish Government Okays Heroin Maintenance in Catalonia | Newsbrief: Dr. Strangelove, Please Call Home -- Connecticut Scientists Compile Marijuana DNA Database to Track Trafficking | Newsbrief: Michigan Lawmakers Introduce Anti-Methamphetamine Package, Includes Life in Prison for 1,000 Grams | The Reformer's Calendar

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