Health Officials Pleased With Safe Crack Smoking Initiative

Photo courtesy of tobakhopper via flickr.

Over 740 safe crack smoking kits have been handed out in London over the last month months, far more than health unit officials were anticipating.

The kits became available at two locations, the Middlesex-London Health Unit and the Regional HIV/AIDS Connection offices, in September.

The distribution is part of a harm reduction strategy by the health unit. The rationale is that if safe drug smoking paraphernalia is readily available less people will it reuse pipes or inject drugs, in turn reducing the spread of certain illnesses, such as HIV and hepatitis.

“There is research indicating that people do switch from injecting drug to safer inhalation kits, which is a step in a positive direction. We’re making contact with clients we may have never have seen, so we are pleasantly surprised with the contacts we’re making,” says Manager of Sexual Health at the Middlesex-London Health Unit Shaya Dhinsa. “We didn’t have a lot of data on how many people smoked crack in London, it was more injection drug use. So it (the distribution rate) may be higher and the fact may be that they have been making their own equipment, so now they’re seeking equipment that’s safer.”

Dhinsa says the controversial government funded program still draws criticism from many people in the community. However, officials believe it does much more good than harm to offer free drug paraphernalia.

“If people are wanting to inject or smoke drugs, then they are going to find the means and ways to do that. It could be difficult to make some of the items or they’re hard to get, so they share those items and in sharing them you can get blood borne infections,” she tells BlackburnNews.com.

Health unit officials will offer drug users information on rehabilitation programs and resources if they ask.

MLHU also runs a needle exchange program where you can pick up clean syringes and drop off used ones.

– photo courtesy of tobakhopper