Edmonton Journal (12.31.11) - Tuesday, January 03, 2012
In December, Vancouver began an eight-month trial project to
improve the health of crack cocaine smokers in the troubled
Downtown Eastside neighborhood. The use of crack has surged
locally, said Trudi Beutel, a spokesperson for Vancouver
Coastal Health Authority (VCHA).
VCHA aims to distribute 60,000 harm-reduction kits through
five distribution centers as part of the broader, $60,000 (US
$59,429) trial. The project seeks to quantify the number of
crack smokers in Vancouver, to learn more about crack
addiction, and to engage users and offer services including
detoxification, Beutel said.
The kits contain glass pipes that are heat-resistant and
shatterproof: Experts say this should reduce mouth injuries
that can make smokers more susceptible to diseases, including
HIV and hepatitis B and C. In addition, the kits contain
mouthpieces, filters, alcohol swabs, screens, and push sticks.
These items have been offered in the past separately; this is
the first time they have been combined in a single kit, Beutel
"What this boils down to is it's about disease prevention,"
Beutel said. "It's about preventing more communicable
diseases, which land these people in hospital on a frequent
basis and clog up emergency rooms."
The five distribution centers - Washington Needle Depot,
Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), Portland Hotel
Society, Lookout Shelter, and Drug and Alcohol Meeting Support
for Women - have agreed to report data throughout the trial.