Here’s what group says a safe drug consumption site in Cal Anderson would look like

(Image: VOCAL Washington)

(Image: VOCAL Washington)

You can try to police your way through the mess of drugs in Seattle. You can also try to address some of the health and social issues around addiction head on. One solution advocates are hoping to bring to Seattle are safe consumption sites for drug users. VOCAL Washington’s tour of a mock safe consumption site around Seattle is making stops on Capitol Hill this week.

Monday, the mock site is set up in Cal Anderson from noon to 7 PM:

Safe Shape/KNOW US: Living and Dying with Substance Use

Tuesday, the tour moves to 12th Ave Arts for an evening visit along with a film screening and the tour’s photo exhibition.

In May, CHS wrote about the consumption site concept and how the program could come to Capitol Hill to provide addicts and users (mostly targeting users who inject) with low-threshold access to a supervised space to consume pre-obtained illicit drugs, clean equipment, emergency care in the case of overdoses, and referrals to healthcare and drug treatment services if desired by the user.

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39 thoughts on “Here’s what group says a safe drug consumption site in Cal Anderson would look like

  1. I hope the siting rules for these locations are at least as strict as the rules for marijuana and liquor retail locations. Cal Anderson is close to an elementary school (Lowell) and hosts a playground for children.

  2. Are you kidding me? Somebody wants to set up a designated state sponsored place for junkies to shoot up next to a kids’ playground? Are these people out of their minds? Let’s have Al Pacino come when we rechristen it “Cal Anderson Needle Park”. How’s that working out with the drug dealers and kids at Regrade Park on 3rd Ave? What’s next, a gun shop and shooting gallery at Broadway and Pike?

    • People already self-inject in that park and have for years–my kids have found needles in the bushes next to the playground. I would welcome a safe place for needles to be disposed of as well as for those grappling with addiction to inject cleanly with less danger of infection.

    • I suppose public spaces should be reserved for people who have the safety of their own granite-countertop-stainless-appliance apartments to abuse opiates in.

  3. Why can’t this be at a public health clinic that also offers drug treatment options? I would not want this in our park. Yes, there is already a lot of drug activity there but this might just bring even more. Put it next to a hospital or government building. Leave our park alone.

    • Mimi, I agree. However, the sites would need to be somewhere relatively convenient to where drug users live / hang-out. Otherwise I would imagine they would just opt for shooting up where they usually do: parks, bathrooms, neighborhood bushes (i.e. all the places we don’t want them to).

    • In theory, it’s a good idea to locate such a site at a Public Health clinic…..however, that government agency has (unfortunately) been closing clinics all over King County in the past 10 years or so. There is no Public Health clinic on Capitol Hill….the closest one is downtown, and I’m not even sure that exists anymore.

  4. I’m pretty sure this article is speaking about the demonstration of what a safe consumption site COULD look like. It is a “mock up” of what they are trying to do. I didn’t read anywhere that they are planning to open one directly in Cal Anderson. Also, Cal Anderson is already an injection site and a site for many other things, sanctioned or not.

    Its a great idea to have sites like this around the city. The space of course will take time to develop, but the truth is we have an increasing problem with very grim current solutions.

    • Point taken … but … the demo is at Cal Anderson and the illustration is a park downtown hence not much of a leap in our minds or public policy to a subsequent realization of needle park sanctuaries … I like what “Mimi” suggested above … namely put them next to a “public health clinic that also offers drug treatment options”

    • Agreed 100%. I think a couple communication lines got crossed here – first of all I don’t think that Vocal means to say they’d like to see a safe injection site in Cal Anderson park (although near it might not be a bad option in my mind, considering the activity and presence of users in the area).

      This installation is meant to educate the public on what the experience is like at a supervised injection site, to get people comfortable with the idea and on board with this particular method of attempting to address an issue affecting our communities. To that end, I’m not sure it’s accomplishing what it is setting out to do. These supervised injection sites would be more like drop-in clinics. A brick-and-mortar location that would provide users with access to help from trained professionals, as well as a connection point to the healthcare industry and tools and services to aid them in recovery, general health issues, and even housing. It’s not going to be a tent on the sidewalk.

      These centers are a progressive and effective solution to an epidemic present in our city. Vancouver’s InSite boasts no overdose deaths on its premises in the 10 years it has been open, with a 35% decrease in overdose deaths in the immediate area it serves. For more information: http://supervisedinjection.vch.ca/media-centre/an-overview-of-insite—10-years-later

    • Go visit Vancouver’s InSite. Really. Its like ground zero in a Detroit zombie apocalypse. Junkies everywhere staggering around with open wounds yelling incoherently. No place I’d want to live.

    • @ Jason – Don’t act like that’s an environment we don’t have here. A trip to Pioneer Square or 3rd Ave downtown confirms this. I’m not saying that it should be left to be that way, but InSite also doesn’t claim to solve the issue of homelessness and drug use completely. It’s a piece in a very complicated puzzle.

    • Neither Cal Anderson or Pioneer Square is anything like the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver, which is what we will end up with at some point if we do not diminish use and addiction.

    • @jsteez Clearly you haven’t been to InSite. Its like being dropped into the middle of a zombie movie. Not homeless people but zombies. Solid zombies for 2 or 3 blocks in every direction.

    • InSite perpetuates and concentrates the problems. InSite may reduce OD mortality, but not OD rates. The availability of reliable OD intervention allows users to “safely” push through tolerance levels to continue feeling high… leading to multiple ODs and long term brain-dammage. Zombies. I see no evidence that InSite has significantly increased long-term recovery rates.

  5. This is a twisted mentality! You want to legalize heroine! You people really need to open your eyes! This city turns my stomach! What kind of lawsuit will we have to pay for a overdose? Is this the best a educated mind has to offer? I would demand my money back fro. Whatever school you went to! If you think it’s bad now just wait until these tents start popping up!

    • This isn’t about legalizing it’s about harm reduction. Not just the “harm” of the individual but of society at large. Hospitals–very expensive–still need to treat people who overdose and get infections. Jail’s not cheap either. Safe injection facilities would likely save tax payer money.
      For obvious reasons locations would need to be well vetted but this seems a step in the right direction.

    • I agree with Local Parent’s comment. This is not about condoning or legalizing behavior; it’s about acknowledging the reality of what is going on and trying to reduce the harm. It’s about picking the lesser of two evils.
      There will always be a segment of the population that do hard drugs. Prohibition hasn’t solved the problem. We could either keep doing the same thing–and get the same results–or we can try something new, like safe injection sites. I vote for trying something new.

  6. We want people shooting up next to kids in the playground? Harm Reduction? WTF? Why encourage zombies on meth/heroin/speed to come hang out in the park?

    I come to the park to relax and play NOT to have encounters with psychopaths.

  7. Seriously – we need to take a look at the Vancouver location. The surrounding blocks are now a dead zone. There are still needles everywhere.

    Harm reduction for the addict at the expense of the community.

    Please someone send a news team up to Vancouver and interview the locals.

  8. Yes, because the first thing a society should worry about when it comes to those who make the choice to do drugs is “are they doing it safely?” One would think that demand reduction would be a more logical step, or at least prosecution. Make that tent the entrance to the county lockup. Safe injection site, indeed.

    • So you’re proposing jailing users? We’ve tried this already, and all we’ve ended up with the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world.

      Old world logic.

    • So your new world logic is just enabling the users. Wonderful. So, because a user can now shoot up in a ‘safe place’ (because they’re so very concerned about their own safety, right?), when the safe place is unavailable, they’re just going to shoot up where they did before (which is anywhere they damned well pleased). Also wonderful.

    • The 90’s prison industrial complex called. They want you to know that incarceration has been tried and failed. You probably didn’t get the memo.

    • @AbleDanger Ill copypasta a comment I made on The Stranger last week. It applies here.

      “Before anybody mashes the word “enabling” into their keyboard, this is harm reduction. Would you rather addicts a) have a safe place to get supplies, use, and dispose of said supplies or b) have addicts use in doorways, possibly leave their needles in planters, further propagate HepC, and have our community pick up the bill rushing them to the hospital when they get laced heroin? Your choice. These centers can also act as a gateway to forming a trusting relationship between users wanting to kick the habit and counselors. Addicts are people too, often lost and without the support structure most of us take for granted in life.

      So rather than just blaming the addict…”

      I can understand how this is seen as enabling, but alongside treatment this is one of our best options forward. Mass incarceration will lead us nowhere.

  9. From what I’ve read about the site in Vancouver, the area was even worse before InSite came along. They located themselves in the heart of the problem, they didn’t cause it.

  10. Gang-banger shoot at each other at our parks. Throwing them in jail does not work. Jail cost gobs of money, we have huge numbers in jail, and their behavior does not change. What we are doing is not working.

    Solution – designate portions of our parks as dueling/shooting zones… like paintball but with real bullets. In this manor we have a touch point for outreach and have fewer deaths since we can administer immediate emergency care. They are going to shoot each other anyway, but this new approach results in fewer deaths and lower cost.

  11. Yesterday, a man was threatening customers at the Trader Joe’s across the street from me. I live on the 11th floor and could hear him yelling. I phoned TJ’s and told them and they said, “Oh, that’s just Bruce, a crackhead; he yells a lot, just don’t give him any money.” Guess the junkies add flavor to the neighborhood!

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