James Shearer co-founded Spare Change News nearly 25 years ago, and each week he offers up his unfiltered take on issues affecting some of the most vulnerable people in the community.
Over the last few months, there have been calls by both medical professionals, activists, and, yes, even
politicians for a safe injection site. Or, to be more politically correct, a drug consumption room where
folks can get high while supervised. Further, it’s a topic that is not only being discussed here in Boston
but all over the country as a way to combat the drug crisis. Finally after 30 years everyone is finally
discovering what we all have known for over 30 years.
“Just Say No” doesn’t work.
Seriously, this may be something whose time has come and, yes, I have been torn over it as
well—but for different reasons than you may be thinking about. I understand the whole “morals” stuff
but to me that’s still a crock. I know people who don’t do drugs with fewer morals than those who use.
If you’re a snake, you’re a snake.
I’ve had personal experiences with drugs, abused it, sold it, watch people die from it, and helped
people trying to beat it. I’ve sat with someone trying to kick cold turkey, It’s not pretty. I’ve heard
people call crack the devil’s drug—you have no idea.
So yeah when I hear about places where you can do it legally and medically supervised it
sounds insane, but we do have bars right? Same thing, and they should be supervised.
Look around you. How many times do we see people nodding out in bushes? Cars? Trains?
How many times have you watched as people stumble so close to the end of a subway platform? I was
one of them, but I was lucky the station was closed. I think about that a lot.
Young kids picking up needles in a park, teens stumbling into a McDonald’s bathroom and
overdosing, how many times have you heard that? Or people getting deadly viral infections from dirty
needles and dying senselessly?
Do you know that more overdoses are by accident? When you walk by and laugh at someone
passed out or seizing they could be overdosing. They’re not some old dirty junkie, they’re human, and
they are dying.
My friend Bobbi could have benefited from a safe injection site. She had just got out of jail and
almost immediately went to get drunk and high, but her body couldn’t take it. She went to a shelter
which did not really have any medical personnel, so nobody noticed that see she needed medical
attention. And by the time they realized it was too late.
Now I know you’re gonna say: how do you know she would have even gone to a site to get
high? To that I say, it would have been nice if she’d had the chance.
AA and NA think it’s their way or no way. Now I’m not gonna knock either one of them or any of the
recovery programs that exist, but frankly many people just aren’t into them, and count me among them.
And what if safe injection sites are a way to recovery? Isn’t that a good thing? I know it’s better
than dying in a fast food restaurant’s bathroom.