Can supervised injection sites help tackle the opioid crisis?

With a growing opioid crisis in Canada's cities, Vancouver's medical professionals are trying new ways to tackle addiction.
Canada is trying new programs to address the opioid crisis. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Listen22:52

Read story transcript

In response to the opioid overdose crisis that continues to grip the country, mayors of 12 major Canadian cities formed a task force last week aimed at targeting drug addiction.   

Yet as politicians search for answers, some advocates say the solution is already out there and being used, right under their nose.    

They're referring to a program at the Crosstown Clinic in Vancouver, ground zero for the opioid crisis.

Most of the 150 addicts who visit the clinic do so every day, up to three times, in order to inject legal heroin under the supervision of medical staff.

But despite the apparent success of the program, advocates say legal injection isn't being taken seriously because of the stigma surrounding drug use. 

These are people with a severe disorder and they are entitled to care and treatment just like anybody else with a chronic disease like diabetes or high blood pressure.- Dr. Scott MacDonald

Have we been looking at addiction all wrong? Should the focus be management instead of prevention? What is best for public health in the long run?

Guest host Laura Lynch gets the facts.

This segment was produced by Vancouver network producer Anne Penman.