In this latest episode of the Greendorphin World News, Arik reports from Melbourne Australia, where the first supervised injection room has just recently been approved by the state government.
It will be opened in the inner – suburb of Richmond, that is notorious for heroin overdoses.
This year, overdose deaths are up 40% in the area, as 34 people have already passed.
It is a two-year trial that should have started a long time ago. After the obvious success of the Sydney, Kings Cross injection room, activists say that many lives could have been saved.
Arik spoke to Greg Denham, Executive Officer at the Yarra Drug and Health Forum, while walking through Richmond and got a good picture of how big of a problem heroin is in the area.
“I could spend all day, 2 hours, 3 hours with you now, walking around the street showing you where injection happens.”
“..in terms of people using drugs, it’s a very public thing here and despite saturation of policing it’s as bad today as it’s been for the last 10 – 15 years. We are not making any progress. In fact, what we find is that when the police come down and they hit the streets hard, it pushes the issue to other areas, it displaces it, we get people ringing and complaining in new areas, where aren’t services available.”
The failed war on drugs has created this problem and supervised safe injection rooms are the first step in the solution to save lives. Treating drug addicts as criminals has failed and pushed many users to inject drugs in an unsafe environment due to fear of prosecution.
“Heroin overdose deaths were very rare at that time, in 1964, the year we’ve got figures for, there were actually 6 deaths from heroin overdose… in the year which heroin overdose deaths here in Australia peaked, 1999, there were 1116. So we went from 6 to 1116 during prohibition.” – Dr Alex Wodak, President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation.
We have recently published a speech by Dr Wodak, the person behind the revolutionary Kings Cross safe-injection room, that was the first one in the country and has been considered to be very successful.
It took Melbourne a long time to follow, however, finally they have and this is a very important step towards saving lives and making a real difference to the heroin problem in Melbourne.