Our May 2 newsletter described the way in which harm reduction, including Insite, the only legal, supervised injection site in North America, can save lives and improve health. We offer the testimony of Rev. Edwin Robinson, Director of Urban Strategies and Live Free for Faith in Texas (part of the People’s National Network), who participated in this study tour to Vancouver, Canada on April 11-13.
Mary Nelson is Executive Consultant to the Parliament of the World’s Religions and member of Bethel Lutheran Church. She is joined by two staff members of InSite. I am intimately familiar with the devastation of drugs in my west side Chicago community, but I came to the Vancouver British Columbia visit as a novice to the “harm reduction” approaches of dealing with drug addiction. Our visit, organized by the founders of InSite, changed all that.
By Rev. Alexander E. Sharp Every day in Vancouver, Canada, 600 to 1,000 drug addicts enter a non-descript, box-like building to inject themselves under medical supervision with whatever drugs they have brought with them, usually heroin, cocaine, or meth. They are participants in InSite, the only legal supervised-injection site in North America.
By Rev. Alexander E. Sharp Nearly 25 years ago, a nurse named Liz Evans in Vancouver, Canada, was told that unless addicts stopped using their drugs, nothing could be done. They might as well be left to die. She refused to accept this view. Instead, she resolved to use the hotel she was managing to house people who were unwelcome elsewhere and to provide humane care for drug addicts, whether they changed or not.
By Rev. Alexander E. Sharp Rev. Edwin Sanders, the iconic African American pastor in Nashville, Tennessee, became well-known many years ago for distributing clean needles to drug addicts so that they would not become infected with HIV-AIDS and other diseases. “How can you, as a pastor, do something that encourages drug use?” he was asked. “I can’t save people’s souls if they are dead,” he would answer.