LETTER: ‘I Support Safe Injection Sites – Here’s Why You Should, Too’


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[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]

I Support Safe Injection Sites – Here’s Why You Should, Too:

Recently, safe injection sites have become a popular topic of discussion in our community; there is an ongoing effort to ban safe injection sites in King County, several neighboring cities have taken up the matter at a local level, and our own City Council has turned their attention to the issue, with the intention of voting on whether or not to ban safe injection sites here in Burien.

While opinions on this matter vary greatly, it is important to use sound logic when forming public policy. Therefore, I would like to ask the people of Burien to take a moment to consider the following evidence that argues safe injection sites are a boon to the communities they serve, and benefit the public’s best interest.

First, I think it is important for everyone to understand the nature of drug addiction. While some people may think drug users are in it just for fun, there is a clear distinction between recreational drug users and those who are addicted. Many addicts do start off as recreational users, but once addiction takes hold, the chemistry of a person’s brain changes – it changes the way they think, their ability to resist using drugs, etc. Addiction is a disease; once someone becomes addicted, it becomes much, much harder to quit doing drugs, and often requires more than just willpower to get clean. In fact, quitting a long-standing addiction cold turkey can be incredibly dangerous – or even deadly.

Most of us know someone – friends, family, co-workers – who has struggled with addiction; whether it is tobacco, alcohol, or something more nefarious, we have seen the consequences of addiction, and many of us have witnessed their fight to quit, and sometimes the setback of relapse. Regardless of what the substance is, ending an addiction is a battle (and one best not fought alone).

Sometimes people lose that battle. Some people find themselves unable to quit; some don’t even get the chance. Whether we watch our loved ones succumb to liver disease from alcoholism, or lung cancer from cigarettes, or overdose from opiates, the pain of losing those we care about cuts deep; and just as our suffering at the loss of someone we love is the same no matter what substance they used, so should our compassion be the same for people regardless of which drug is driving their addiction.

We as a society do not turn people away for chemotherapy if their lung cancer comes from smoking two packs a day. We do not tell alcoholics they are on their own. We need to acknowledge that someone’s addiction to illegal drugs, rather than more socially-accepted ones, does not relieve us of our moral obligation and civic duty to help them to the best of our abilities.

We know we are facing a crisis in this country when it comes to drug addiction. Usage rates are so high, we have officially declared an epidemic. According to the CDC, from 2000 to 2015 more than half a million people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. Unfortunately, resources to help people combat drug addiction are finite, and recovery programs are often under-funded. And, even when resources are available, some people do not feel ready, or able, to quit.

While some may view this hesitance as a personal weakness or a lack of morality, the truth is that people become addicted to drugs for a variety of reasons – many of which stem from situations beyond their control. For example, people who experienced childhood abuse are more likely to struggle with drug addiction; research has shown that as much as two-thirds of all people in treatment for drug abuse report that they were abused as a child. Victims of sexual assault are also at increased risk for drug abuse; so are people who have experienced other types of trauma, such as veterans suffering from PTSD (over 20% of veterans suffering from PTSD struggle with substance use disorder). Another common gateway to addiction is using prescribed medications for pain or injuries, only for users to find themselves unable to stop. Mental illness is another major contributing factor to being more susceptible to drug abuse, and genetics often play a role, too.

When we recognize the reasons behind why people turn to drugs, it becomes easier to understand why so many often feel incapable of quitting; and, when we take into consideration that those suffering from mental illness, trauma, pain, etc. are using drugs to self-medicate, or even just to escape from the horror they have witnessed in their life, it becomes clear that these people – the most vulnerable among us, those who have suffered so much – need our help more than anyone.

Which brings us to the question, what can we do to help? This is where harm reduction strategies come in. Harm reduction is a concept where we as a society acknowledge that there are drug users in our midst – some who are not yet prepared to get sober and others who do not know how – and we implement tactics that help minimize the dangers associated with drug use, for addicts and the general public. Drug use does not strictly impact only those who use drugs themselves – the communities they belong to suffer, too. We see paraphernalia and debris left behind in our public spaces, diseases spread, and we witness the costs accrued from dealing with the public health issues surrounding widespread drug use. These are all issues addressed through harm reduction. By implementing harm reduction strategies, we can combat these problems, and more, while helping lead those suffering from addiction towards recovery.

There is strong evidence to support harm reduction models, including – and especially – safe injection sites. In fact, the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association have both come out and endorsed the implementation of safe injection sites in communities struggling with drug addiction, noting that research shows “supervised injection facilities reduce the number of overdose deaths, reduce transmission rates of infectious disease, and increase the number of individuals initiating treatment for substance use disorders without increasing drug trafficking or crime in the areas where the facilities are located.”

The amount of research conducted on the subject of harm reduction and the use of safe injection sites is impressive, and the data is conclusive. Safe injection sites have been implemented around the world, with surprising and consistent results: significant improvements made in regards to public health issues surrounding drug use. Because safe injection sites keep the medicine naloxone, or Narcan, on hand, they are able to instantly reverse overdoses as they occur, thus saving the lives of people who would otherwise die from overdose. For example, the safe injection site in Vancouver, B.C., Insite, has reversed thousands of overdoses on location, with zero overdose fatalities recorded at their location. Additional research found that overdose deaths were reduced not just inside the facility, but in the surrounding area as well: one study saw a 35% reduction in overdose deaths in the immediate vicinity of the safe injection site over the course of just 2 years. Other benefits of the program included marked decrease in public drug use in the area (44% less) , as well as a reduction in discarded needles around the neighborhood (54% less), after just 12 weeks of the facility being opened. An analysis conducted on local crime found no increase in criminal activity (including drug trafficking) in the area after Insite opened, though it did note a significant drop (a 25% decrease) in the number of vehicle break-ins and thefts. B.C.’s safe injection site has been so successful that even the Vancouver Police Department and British Columbia Nurses’ Union have come out in support of the program.

These results are mirrored by data compiled on safe injection sites around the world: one systematic review of 75 reports on safe injection sites concluded that the evidence all points in the same direction: reductions in overdose deaths and discarded needles in public spaces, no increase in crime, and an uptick of safe injecting practices, such as not sharing needles. Another global analysis of safe injection sites offers similar findings, also noting that in Sydney, Australia, there was no increase in Hepatitis B or C transmission in the area their safe injection site served, despite an increase of new cases elsewhere in Sydney, and that those who visited safe injection sites were more likely to seek treatment for their addiction (a result commonly echoed in many studies). A report from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network remarks on the impressive fiscal gains to be had, shown in the cost-benefit analysis of implementing safe injection programs, through their prevention of the spread of diseases – mainly HIV and Hep C – by providing clean needles to drug users (treating lifelong illnesses racks up a much heftier bill than actively preventing new infections). And beyond the problems one would expect safe injection sites to impact such as needle sharing or overdose rates, there are unexpected public health benefits correlated with the programs as well: studies have found that drug users who visit safe injection sites are less likely to have unprotected sex and more likely to use condoms consistently; one study even found that women who use safe injection sites are less likely to encounter violence they would typically be more vulnerable to when using out on the street. The studies just go on and on in a similar fashion.

When we are presented with such a wealth of peer-reviewed research conducted by respected professionals from all over the world, published in reputable medical journals and corroborated by our most esteemed medical institutions, it seems only logical to recognize that harm reduction strategies such as safe injection sites do serve our community’s best interest, and should have the support of all of our residents. I urge each and every one of our neighbors to dig deep, and find within themselves the ability to embrace these new directions medical science is taking us, and to display the same compassion for the people suffering in our community that we do for our own loved ones – because every person struggling with drug addiction is somebody’s mother or father, sister or brother, husband or wife, best friend or loved one, and they deserve every chance we can give them to succeed in their fight to get off drugs. Let’s do the right thing, and keep them alive long enough to fight another day.

– Cydney M.J. Moore

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Comments

67 Responses to “LETTER: ‘I Support Safe Injection Sites – Here’s Why You Should, Too’”
  1. Seahurst resident says:

    Cydney, you care deeply about the safety and well being of the drug addicts and than is applauded. The problem is that most people in Burien care mostly about the safety and well being of their children and the environment they grow up in. That’s why they don’t want this in Burien and in their neighborhoods.

    You reference Vancouver BC, so if King County wants this they can put it in Seattle, right in down town.

    Burien has already a fair larger share of major issues for a small town, like the homeless, the high crime rate and the overflights. Please safe us from more issues and elect the people that will make Burien a vibrant city where people want their children grow up.

    • Cydney M. says:

      I, too, care about the safety of our children – which is one of the main reasons I am so adamant about supporting safe injection sites. I’m tired of living in fear of my, or other people’s, children finding dirty needles on the playground, or stumbling across a dead body laying in the street from a preventable overdose, and getting sick or being traumatized by it. I have found two dirty needles in aa many weeks while just walking around town. We know safe injection sites not only save lives, but they also reduce the amount of dangerous drug-related litter, such as dirty needles, left discarded in public spaces. In Barcelona they saw 4x fewer dirty needles discarded in public spaces after implementing their safe injection program, and similar results have been seen all around the world. These programs also have shown to reduce crime and public drug consumption in the areas they serve. If we care about the safety and well being of our children, and all of our local residents, we MUST be open to safe injection sites.

      • Carri says:

        As a mother of an heroin addict I can say I am against SIF’s. I get Cydneys points, some of them are valid. It is harm reduction to a point but only because it is staffed with medical personnel so if they overdose they get “narcanned”. The needles being all over parks will not be reduced because they have had a “clean needle” plan in place for years (those are the ones you see laying around). Prosecution is not the answer for addiction. I do everything in my power to put my son in a corner and keep him sober I sure as hell don’t need a city enabling him with a “safe” site. There is nothing “safe” about injecting heroin. It’s an oxymoron but then I am just a mom battling to save her son’s life…what do I know?

        • Cydney M. says:

          People like your son are doing drugs already – and most hide it from the people who care for them. This means they are more often than not injecting alone, and having safe injection sites can and does make a difference between having someone there to help if you overdose or being alone where no one can call for help or help you themselves. This is a life or death matter. Part of what safe injection sites do is encourage people to seek treatment, and studies show that addicts who visit safe injection sites are more likely to try to get help. Research also shows consistently a reduction in the amount of needle litter in the areas where safe injection sites open. We need to be open to the data available to us, and acknowledge the fact that we have been presented with ways to help keep our communities – including our loved ones struggling with addiction – safe.

        • Captain obvious says:

          So Carri giving your son a place to go and get his fix in a clean environment no need to contact a drug dealer no need to steel his mother money out her pocket book.

          Get on a plan to lower his need for the drug so he would have a less chance of relapse.

          Also in these safe injection sites they don’t leave with the needle.

          The clean needle places help to keep people like your son from getting or spreading harmful diseases and STDs around.

          Unfortunately some discard these on the ground do to lack of safe boxes to dispose of them
          Or just plain stupidity.

  2. Ctac says:

    Shut it down for the safety of all! This is unacceptable in America!

    • Cydney M. says:

      Ctac – safety should be one of our primary concerns, and if we are to act in the public’s best interest in terms of public safety, we should be actively promoting the implementation of safe injection sites in our communities, for all the reasons listed above. Safe injection sites have been proven to make the communities they serve safer through the reduction of dangerous litter like used needles left in public spaces, as well as the reduction in crime that research has shown comes hand-in-hand with safe injection sites. If you truly believe in creating a safer community, you should fully support safe injection sites.

  3. Lee Moyer says:

    Cydney,
    Thanks for a well written article using facts rather than fear. That is rare on this blog and bound to rile the thumb downers and “Burien Pride Burien First” reactionary council candidates who campaign on fear and ignorance.

  4. justme says:

    If you took a trip to Vancouver, and stood near their injection site all day, you’d change your mind about their helpfulness. There have been studies with their local merchants near the injection sites and all of them are discouraged, fed up, and tired of the crime, garbage, and theft within blocks of the site. Enabling does not encourage the addict to stop. Mandatory incarcerated treatment does.
    Safe injection sites only concentrate the dealing and crime within the blocks around their buildings. And, the few that use the sites to shoot up are a small group compared to those still on the streets who’d rather do their thing in private.

    • Cydney M. says:

      I lived in Vancouver for 8 months, not that far from the area where their safe injection site is located, and I can assure you the homeless population and crime was there long before they established their safe injection site. They located their facility there so aa to be easily accessible for the addicts in that area. Data consistently shows a decrease in crime in neighborhoods served by safe injection sites. We also know that the current system of locking people in prison over a drug addiction – a disease – isnt working. Throwing people in jail for being sick is a poor way to manage a public health issue. If this approach was effective, we wouldnt have an opioid epidemic on our hands. Drug usr is increasing, not decreasing, so its time to try a new approach – one supported by science.

      • justme says:

        Cydney,

        You’re right, throwing the user in jail is not the answer. You missed the point I was expressing. It was mandatory (lock up) treatment, not jail. Treatment followed by life skills and self esteem building.

  5. Pat Paulsen says:

    I agree totally with Cydney. BUT, your words are falling on deaf ears and closed minds. They are so holier than thou they will not ‘get it’ until their own child or someone else close to them succumbs to the temptation to obliterate their pain with drugs. Compassion is not seen often in Burien any more.

  6. steve says:

    A lot of smart people thought making a nuclear bomb was a good idea too. Have you seen the injection site in Vancouver BC? Drug dealers.Drug addicts, crime, trash, a ruined neighborhood. Why would you want that in your neighborhood? The science does not match the reality! Like a nuclear bomb.

    • Cydney M. says:

      I actually lived not too far from that area in Vancouver for 8 months. The neighborhood was like that long before the safe injection site opened, and research has shown things like crime and drug-related litter such as needles has been reduced since the opening of the safe injection site – as well as the number of overdose deatha occurring in the neighborhood. The neighborhood may still have problems, but at least now you are less likely to stumble across a dead body in the street from a preventable overdose. The Vancouver Police Departmenr supports the safe injection site there. Maybe we should take note.

  7. Earl Gipson says:

    Is this the same Cydney Moore of The Joint Blog?

    https://thejointblog.com/us/

  8. Theresa says:

    “We as a society do not turn people away for chemotherapy if their lung cancer comes from smoking two packs a day. We do not tell alcoholics they are on their own. We need to acknowledge that someone’s addiction to illegal drugs, rather than more socially-accepted ones, does not relieve us of our moral obligation and civic duty to help them to the best of our abilities.”

    Thank you so much, Cydney, for your well-written and logic-filled letter. Addiction truly is a disease, and it’s time that we as a society treat it as such. And instead of foisting the problem off on Seattle, let’s be a model and show others how much better our community will be because of our compassionate care.

    • Seahurst resident says:

      Interesting point. Generally, the society has not been very supportive of providing free stuff to addicts for non-socially accepted additions. What about the gamble and sex additions. Would we also give them gambling addicts free money to gamble and the sex addicts free hooker service?

      • Captain obvious says:

        I as unaware you can overdose and die from gambling or having sex seahurst resident thanks for pointing out this health breakthrough.

        Can you please explain the science behind this discovery you have unlocked.

        Or are there different ways treatment for different addictions.

      • On Lake Burien Minor says:

        Needless to say (or so I thought), providing a safe injection site is NOT equivalent to giving free drugs.

  9. Peter says:

    I recently spoke with a woman who works with the homeless / drug addicts in San Diego. They do not have so-called “safe injection” sites there. She was up in Vancouver and told me that while walking in that city she came upon a safe injection site there. She spoke with one of the workers and it was about an hour before getting dark,. The worker told her: “you don’t want to be aound here after dark.” Too dangerous. Too many addicts, dealers, etc. on the streets hanging around nearby. She would have been a target for a mugging for even with a safe injection site, you still have to get that $$ for drugs, right?

    Now imagine a “safe-injection” site here in Burien, and remember the words of the worker in Vancouver – “you do not want to be here after dark.” Do we want Burien to be a place where you do not want to walk after dark? Where regular folks are targets for muggings? That should be an easy question to answer. And it is also the reason why I am not for this so-called “safe injection” site. Do we want Burien to be a city where we cannot walk around safely after dark?

    Now, we have 4 candidates running for city council who are emphatically opposed to these ‘safe injection” sites: Darla Green, Joel Manning, Debi Wagner, and Patty Janssen – they are all committed to making Burien a safer city and I strongly advise voting for them. Or you could vote for the other candidates who are at best wobbly on this “safe injection” site issue and at worst for the sites which would make Burien more dangerous.

    It seems to me the choice is quite obvious.

    • Lee Moyer says:

      The conditions around the B C site were that bad or worse before the Safe Injection site was established. They are not a product of the site. Studies show that that site has reduced crime.

    • Seahurst resident says:

      The problem with these ‘researches’ is the cherry picking of data. Yes, the crime reduces in part of the city, but increases in the part of the injection site. The interesting part of these researches is that the researchers themselves don’t want to have anything like this in their neighborhood, because they know the actual data. These researches are all done to support the politics around these issues and the data presented in a way to let people believe that it is a good thing.

      Researchers in Europe have been promoting taking refugees in as it would be good for the country while they vehemently oppose having a refugee center in their own neighborhood.

      The bottom line is that most people have some common sense and they know this is something they don’t want to have anything to do with it.

      With all due respect for the writer, but she is a cannabis promoter. For the people that don’t want to have anything to do with this and raise their kids without it they just don’t support these injection sites and if they needed put them in downtown Seattle. Amazon surely will lend some office space for it.

      • Cydney M. says:

        I’m not sure what data you are looking at, but you are sorely mistaken. Research consistently shows a reduction in crime specifically in the neighborhoods hosting safe injection sites, not just elsewhere in the city. Also, the data is consistent, even when presented by many different researchers from all around the world, most of whom have absolutely no stake in promoting or opening safe injection sites. If you look at some of the studies referenced in this article, you will see that the researchers come from many different institutions from many different countries- includinf researchers in the UK who compiled data from a multitude of other studies to provide a recommendation on whether or not safe injection sites should be brought to the UK (spoiler alert: they concluded that yes, safe injection sites are beneficial and would be useful if opened in their own country). This isn’t about cherry-picking data. I link to many studies, so you can feel free to look over their results and report back if you find anything inconsistent with what I have said here, or point out any flaws in their methodology you find. Given the sheer massive amount of research done on the subject, and the overwhelmingly conclusive results found over and over and over, I highly doubt you will find the means or reason to invalidate them all. And given that institutions like the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association have endorsed these sites, I think it is clear the medical community is generally in agreement with the outcomes of these results that show safe injection sites are beneficial to the communities they serve. Even the Vouncouver Police Department supports their safe injection site, and they’re the ones patrolling the area, dealing with any crime.

        Also, I’m not sure why you think my work somehow makes what I have said here any less valid. I’ve been a drug law reform advocate for several years, which means I have probably looked into this subject much more than the majority of people discussing this here. I have reviewed the data, and I try dilligently to pass on the information to others, so we can adjust our public policies to align with what science tells us is the best possible path forward. And honestly, you don’t need to like me or respect me or trust anything I say – I have provided links to several studies and there are several more out there you can read yourself, so you can base your opinion off what scientists and medical professionals will tell you, or what respected institutions like the WHO and AMA say. Everything I am saying is coming straight from them, so if you disagree, maybe you should talk to them about it. I’m guessing you probably aren’t going to change their minds.

      • On Lake Burien Minor says:

        You make many dubious assertions but unsurprisingly provide no supporting evidence (contrarily to the author). Some readers seem to be lapping it up.

  10. AD says:

    Thanks, Cydney, for the calm and rational discussion about the subject. It seems like having a controlled environment for addicts is vastly better than the uncontrolled/loose on the streets situation we have now. Plus, safe sites would possibly help medical personnel better able to encourage addicts to head into treatment when those folks are ready. The “not in my backyard” attitude many share is something we need to move above. It seems to me like this situation IS in our backyard, as are the homeless and other people some may feel should just go somewhere else. Wishing them away is not going to work. Neither is making their lives more miserable. These folks are everywhere. A major defintion of “good people” is how they deal with those not in power. I like to think of Burien as being mostly “good people”. But lately, is feels like the loudest voices are those who see the addicted, the homeless, the sick, , the undocumented, the elderly as non people/problems and not as fellow human beings.

    • Peter says:

      Unfortunately such a typical response from AD – accuse those against safe injection sites as hating the elderly and illegal immigrants. I could much more easily accuse supporters of safe injection sites as disregarding the safety and welfare of the elderly (and others) as they would be targets of the increased crime associated with safe injection sites. Recall that drug users need drugs, and $$ for their drugs. Where do you think they get this money? They get it from committing crimes, burglaries, muggings, prostitution, etc. What a mess if we allow Burien have one of these places. Anyway, AD, feel free to address the points, rather than engage in ad hominems.

      • Cydney M. says:

        Peter, did you not read the article? Or are you just choosing to ignore all the data presented, includinf the opinions of the World Health Organization, American Medical Association, the Ontario HIV Treatment Network, the Vancouver Police Department, etc., etc.? Data consistently shows safe injection sites improve public safety and reduce crime. Also, not all drug addicts steal or rob or prostitute themselves. If you won’t believe any of the hundreds of researchers who have concluded safe injection sites DO NOT increase crime, or the police who actually patrol the areas surrounding safe injection sites who also say they DO NOT increase crime, well then who exactly will you believe? How much evidence do you require to acknowledge the fact that safe injection sites DO NOT increase crime – and, in fact, actually reduce crime? I’m not sure how much more proof you could possibly need.

      • Captain obvious says:

        Peter you got things a little backwards. Since these safe injection sites help the people who are addicts. By providing them with the correct dosage of heroin in a control environment. Taking a way the need to steal or rob the older people. Taking away the need for a drug dealer.

        • Cydney M. says:

          Safe injection sites don’t provide drugs, but they do reverse overdoses so if someone takes too much or takes drugs laced with something foreign they won’t die from it. And research does consistently show a reduction in crime in the areas where they open.

        • Pam Fernald says:

          Captain obvious wrote: ‘ By providing them with the correct dosage of heroin in a control environment. Taking a way the need to steal or rob the older people. Taking away the need for a drug dealer.’

          It is my understanding that no drugs are provided at the injection site. Users still need to come with their own set up, including the drug itself. So, however they are obtaining drugs currently would not change by going to an injection site.

          This could draw more drug dealers to the area of the injection site because they know people going in will still need to buy their illegal drugs.

          So whatever junk they come into the site with, and inject, the only thing that will change is that when there is an OD, they won’t have to call a paramedic because supposedly they will be saved on the spot.

          If the above is erroneous information, feel free to correct me with the proper facts.

        • Peter says:

          Captain Obvious – it seems obvious that you got it wrong in your reply to me in which you claim that addicts are provided with heroin and correct doses, etc. They get nothing of the sort. They still have to buy the stuff, steal to get the $$ to buy the stuff, and get it from pushers who will be too happy to frequent the areas around these godforsaken sites. All of this adds up to more crime and more drug use. No thanks.

          • Cydney M. says:

            All evidence shows that drug use and crime does not increase in an area where safe injection sites open. People who are already stealing aren’t going to steal more because a safe injection site opens. People who don’t steal aren’t going to start. Drug dealers do not move into an area, because drug dealers already are present – hence why we have a drug problem in the city….. You act as though a safe injection site is going to suddenly cause a bunch of new people to do drugs. Nobody is going to suddenly become an addict because they have a safe injection site near them. Nobody just up and decides they want to become a homeless drug addict one day so they can sit in a line waiting for a turn to stab themselves with a needle and possibly overdose. Drug use does not increase, drug dealing does not increase, and crime does not increase in areas where safe injection sites are opened. Please stop making unfounded assumptions and basing your opinion on unsupported and false claims. There is evidence available to tell you exactly what you can expect to see in a neighborhood where a safe injection site opens. I suggest you educate yourself.

  11. MichaelJ says:

    It is interesting that those who feel safe injection sites are “enabling” and results in a crime ridden, dangerous neighborhood don’t recognize the fact that they do it anywhere they can regardless, is already very visible, and is much more unsafe for the public than a safe, known injection site would be. Addicts cannot just quit once hooked.

    Burien is not Vancouver BC. The area it was located in was crime ridden before that site existed. Safe injections sites do not draw more crime with their presence nor are already dangerous places worsened by them. The same arguments are used against day centers for the homeless. And the same cherry picking and secondhand information is used against them.

    The public health issues are serious and this is a way to manage them. Ignoring this it will not make it better. And harm reduction will not make it worse.

  12. jenny says:

    Look at local stats and find the majority of users live in the city of Seattle. That is where the drug facility should be located if at all.

    • Cydney M. says:

      There are plans to open a safe injection site in Seattle. Our community could benefit from one as well. I, and many others in town, are tired of finding dirty needles laying around our public spaces. Clearly Burien has a problem, and safe injection sites would help address it.

  13. Great says:

    Maybe make heroin legal, tax it, and they can pay for their own injection site.

    • QA1 says:

      Be careful what you wish for–or joke about.
      There are actually people reading these posts that have suggested this–seriously. As in NO JOKE!

  14. QA1 says:

    I was volunteering at the Burien Library today and had a discussion with one of 2 law enforcement on patrol for the day. (For whom I was happy to see, while at the same time though, saddened because of all the criminal activity around and in the library the last several years we actually need extra officers to keep the public building safe for those using it as it was intended. (i.e. NOT as a drug den, open-air drug market, flop house, etc.)

    I asked him what he thought about the concept of a SIS in Burien. He simply said, ” well , if one opens here, that means there will be a migration of addicts coming to this city which is welcoming them. You know that on average a heroin addict shoots up $30,000 worth of heroin per year. Where do you think they will find the money to keep their habits going? YOUR houses will be burgerized, YOUR cars will be broken into or stolen. The businesses will also suffer losses due to this.”

    Not sure about you, but to me this is a huge no-win for the unaddicted in Burien who simply want a safe place to call home. A place where they can go out at night and not have to be on alert for pan-handlers or worse.

    I can already hear the responses about how inhumane, cruel, unempathetic I am. Believe what you want to make up. I have talked to and read so much from people directly involved or with relatives directly involved with heroin addiction. None of them think SIS’s make sense. They are simply enabling and encouraging addicts to believe the illusion it’s all sanctioned and OK by the city.
    PLEASE PUT THE $ into long term therapy instead of this unproven way of “handling” this mess of addiction! NO ONE GAINS BY USING THIS APPROACH. Well, except the cities using well-oiled machines to collect $ off the backs of these poor individuals.

    • Cydney M. says:

      The personal opinion of one police officer who has never been around a safe injection site does not outweigh the scores of data that show the opposite. Safe injection sites do not increase crime or increase the number of addicts in an area, and in fact actually help reducd both. I’ve linked to several studies in the article where you can find this information, and there is plenty more out there if you care to look. And, if you want to ask police officers who actually do work in areas with safe injection sites, who actually have experience patrolling and serving those communities, well you can just ask the Vancouver Police Department – they are very much in support of their safe injection site.

    • MichaelJ says:

      I always wondered why a jonesing opioid addict would come all the way to Burien, when they don’t have to come here to get the stuff, and are less likely to drive here to inject it.

      Do you think there are no local addicts? Since there is nothing established here now, where do you think those spent needles come from?

    • Captain obvious says:

      Well could you ask the officer to come post on the blog to verify his comments and research behind his thoughts. Instead of just a here say post by random blogger with no verication of this conversation actually happening and not just attempt to sway people’s opinions. On the subject like most haters do on here. Make things up to sway people away from honest conversations to nonsense bull****!

    • Captain obvious says:

      See with out verifying this. It’s easy for someone to make things up.

      Like I was volunteering at the zoo today and seen some pigs flying and ask one the service workers what do they think of this. They said well happens all the time some times they crash we get free bacon it’s great.

    • Peter says:

      QA1, thank you for the excellent response showing that law enforcement knows what will happen if one of these sites were to come to a city. Bottom line is: The SIS will attract tons of addicts = more addicts coming to the city. the addicts need drugs to shoot up = more drug dealers coming to the city. $$ is needed to fund the heroin = more crime, burglaries, muggings, etc.

      The logic is unassailable – a safe injection site would be terrible for Burien, just as any candidate for city council who would support this – such as Tosta, Pedro Olguin, Jimmy Matta, and Krystal Marx would be terrible for Burien.

      • Cydney M. says:

        Law enforcement does know what happens when a safe injection site comes to a city – and they continue to support it, as we can see with the Vancouver Police Department. If you care about the opinions of LO, I’m not sure why you would continue to ignore this.

        Also, data shows safe injection sites do not increase the number of addicts or the crime in the areas they serve, and actually reduce crime and help people get off drugs.

        How can you speak og logic while ignoring the most logic path forward, which is to act based on the overwhelming amount of data and information available to us on the subject? That is about ad illogical as it gets.

      • QA1 says:

        Thank you Peter. I appreciate your support and logic. I also appreciate your realization that this conversation was not made up. I do think I could come up with something more creative and entertaining if I were making up a story!

  15. Ben Hennessy says:

    Arguments against seem largely symbolic.

  16. Diane says:

    Cydney (or anyone else with the stats),
    Do you know the average population of the cities world wide that offer SIS?

    • Cydney M. says:

      I have not seen any specific data on that, but you could probably look it up by searching for the locations of all the safe injection sites and looking at the populations of those localities to determine an average.

  17. Dan says:

    Safe injection site is not safe. All we are doing is spending more money to attract and promote more drug addicts. This society is pretending to be good from the out side but evil in the inside. We are rewarding the bad and evil and ignore the good. The society will collapse soon. I will move the family if we Burien has this site.

    • Cydney M. says:

      Safe injection sites don’t promote drug use and do not increase the number of addicts in an area. They actually help encourage addicts to get clean, so are likely to reduce the number of addicts in the area. They also save lives. When you talk about “good” and “evil”, where are you placing compassion on that scale? Because to me, if anything is “evil”, it’s allowing sick and vulnerable people to die when we can save them. Addiction is a disease. Addicts have loved ones. Their lives aren’t any less valuable than any others’. Letting them die because you don’t want them in your neighborhood and are worried a safe injection site will draw them in (it won’t) seems to fall pretty far into the category of “evil” in my book. I prefer to think people act this way because they are uninformed on the issue, not because they are morally corrupt; but, when you have evidence in front of you that shows you the truth and you still choose to ignore it and let these people come to harm, knowing you could help them and knowing it comes with no risk to yourself, it certainly leads one to wonder what kind of person could do that and still sleep at night…

  18. J says:

    We won’t stop opioids / hard drugs from coming in, so I’m for the sites (for now, assuming help to recover also becomes more available).

    I’m just sick of seeing 2 yr olds pick up tied up balloons in parks & worrying about needles. … Sick of litter period.

    There should be heavy penelty for leaving a needle or balloon in a park.

  19. J says:

    The Ultimate Compromise:

    Somebody leaves heroin / hard drug supplies in a park: imprison them & make them pick up trash.

    If we see smbdy litter: make them pick up trash.

    If a good person is hooked & homeless : offer them a safe place, & let there be opportunities they can strive for if they get off drugs.

    • Captain obvious says:

      How would you come up with what qualifies as a good person.

      Without being called out as a part of a hate group.

      • J says:

        @ Captain Obvious
        Because the good ppl (smart enough to purchase heroin & go to a park) won’t leave a needle or balloons in the park for toddlers to pick up.

        # has happened in front of me
        … # obvious

  20. leroy says:

    It is I think, interesting to note, all of the research, quoted by Cydney M. has been done in large cities, in their neighborhoods, that already have high crime and high drug use rates.

    Burien is a small city with a modest drug and crime problem, compared to those in the studies.

    So in that way, the quoted research, is of little value in Burien’s case, in my opinion.

    What if the plan backfires? What if in a small city like Burien, it does increase, drug use and crime? What would you say to those of us who have worked for decades in Burien to build a business, and purchase a house and or property?

    Truth is no one really knows what the outcome would be. But I kind of think, in Burien it would be a poor choice. Crime ridden High drug use areas of big cities, that may well be a different deal

    • Cydney M. says:

      Burien actually has a ridiculously high crime rate:

      https://www.google.com/amp/b-townblog.com/2014/09/15/report-burien-is-3rd-most-dangerous-city-in-the-entire-state-of-washington/amp/

      And the dirty needles left laying around town suggests we do certainly have a druh problem as well.

      Suggesting that all the data gathered on the subject would somehow not apply to us because our population is scaled slightly smaller than the majority of cities studied seems pretty unfounded… The results have been consistent around the world. The statistical probability of us having drastically differing results seems pretty miniscule.

    • MichaelJ says:

      What if it does not? Like many a shelter that is properly managed and service connecting.
      Write the rules that ensure that it does. Any one disruptive gets the boot, and may be arrested.
      There is a day sheter in Greenwood that causes no trouble. It’s not unique, and works in the long run. But it took private money and someone willing to take a calculated risk. It did not take more than Burien can do.

      Being totally risk adverse also means stagnation. And neglect of root causes never improved anything.

  21. Lake Burien says:

    Who is paying this pro-drugs pseudo writer?

  22. Shelly says:

    Logic is good. Wish Milly Tilly would have used logic, instead of damaging the campaign of their friend

  23. Don Honda says:

    Portugal is held up as the gold standard for “decriminalizing” drugs and not “judging” the addict. Their programs has some success due to wrap-around services and is mandatory. Drug dealing is still illegal and dealt with harshly. Other EU countries tried to emulate the program. With the 2008 recession, their budgets were slashed for the addicts in program and caused overdoses, increased crime, and increased disease transmission, increased homelessness. Can you see us having an Injections Site AND wrap-around services? I don’t believe there will be funding for both. Why not use any proposed funding and increase needed detox/rehab facilities and sober living environments along with all the needed physical/mental health and social services. The way I see it, Injections Sites are prolonging the suffering and misery of the addict with the usual end result of death. Which would be more compassionate?

    http://www.vancouversun.com/little+evidence+harm+reduction+reduces+harm+more+than+good/8679087/story.html?fref=gc&dti=189308553419

    “The four pillar approach only works when each pillar is properly funded. Prevention reduces the flow of people into addiction. Treatment reduces the number of addicts including those living in the DTES. Policing keeps a lid on the open drug dealing and the affects of the associated problems on the community. Only after these three pillars are properly funded can we afford to spend money on Harm Reduction initiatives that do not encourage abstinence. Putting HR first is like running up debt on your credit card and never paying more than your minimum payments.”

    http://www.globaldrugpolicy.org/Issues/Vol%201%20Issue%203/A%20Critical%20Evaluation.pdf

    THE JOURNAL OF GLOBAL DRUG Policy AND PRACTICE
    A Critical Evaluation of the Effects of Safe Injection Facilities
    Garth Davies, Simon Fraser University

    Conclusion: Taking Causality Seriously
    On the subject of the effects of SIFs, the available research is overwhelmingly positive. Evidence can be found in support of SIFs achieving each of the goals listed at the beginning of the evaluation. In terms of our level of confidence in these studies,the assessment offered here is far less sanguine. In truth,none of the impacts attributed to SIFs can be unambiguously verified. As a result of the methodological and analytical problems identified above, all claims remain open to question.

    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/pubs/_sites-lieux/insite/index-eng.php

    Vancouver’s INSITE service and other Supervised injection sites: What has been learned from research?

    Final report of the Expert Advisory Committee

    http://www.kiro7.com/news/local/councilwomans-idea-for-seattle-safe-injection-site-locations-belltown-lake-city/466411868

    “At the Vancouver site, the manager said since opening in 2003, the overdose death rate in the area around the clinic has dropped 35 percent. But the clinic also estimates 15 to 20 percent of people using the site come from other parts of the country specifically for it.”

    http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/is-vancouvers-safe-drug-use-site-a-good-model-for-seattle/
    “Although research appears to bear that out, many of the studies that attest to Insite’s success are small and limited to the years after the center opened. For instance, a 2011 study published in the journal The Lancet found a 35 percent reduction in overdose deaths in the blocks surrounding Insite, versus 9 percent in the rest of Vancouver.

    But that often-cited study looked only at the period two years before and two years after the center opened, not the ensuing decade.”

    http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/is-vancouvers-safe-drug-use-site-a-good-model-for-seattle/

    “Although Insite is paired with a drug-treatment center, called Onsite, Berner and other critics point out that completion rates are low. Of the 6,500 people who visited Insite last year, 464 were referred to Onsite’s detox center. Of those, 252 finished treatment.”

    The Vancouver Insite was placed in a crime-ridden, drug-ridden, low-income neighborhood. It only got worse.

    http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/is-vancouvers-safe-drug-use-site-a-good-model-for-seattle/
    “Although the Insite center is a model, the Vancouver neighborhood surrounding it is nothing to emulate, advocates acknowledged.

    “If I came from a city like Seattle and I went to that Insite place, it would scare the hell out of me,” Kral said. “I would think, ‘Are we going to create one of those?’ ””

    http://news.nationalpost.com/news/vancouvers-gulag-canadas-poorest-neighbourhood-refuses-to-get-better-despite-1m-a-day-in-social-spending
    Vancouver’s ‘gulag’: Canada’s poorest neighbourhood refuses to get better despite $1M a day in social spending

    What do you think would happen if this was placed in a middle-class neighborhood, or, ANY neighborhood?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=audzsuRMWBE&t=586s
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwJkqTZ5H_s

    http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/brian-hutchinson-thousands-of-used-drug-needles-have-become-the-new-normal-for-vancouver
    4/27/2016
    Brian Hutchinson: Finding used drug needles in public spaces has become the new normal for Vancouver

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/mark-hasiuk/insite-vancouver_b_3949237.html

    “Ten years later, despite any lofty claims, for most addicts, InSite’s just another place to get high.”

    The 100% positive studies on Vancouver’s Insite (Safe Injection Facility) was done “Early last decade, Montaner and Kerr lobbied for an injection site. In 2003, the Chretien Liberals acquiesced, gave the greenlight to B.C.’s Ministry of Health, which, through Vancouver Coastal Health, gave nearly $1.5 million to the BC Centre (that’s Montaner and Kerr, you remember them) to evaluate a three-year injection site trial in Vancouver.

    I asked him about the potential conflict of interest (lobbyists conducting research) and he ended the interview with a warning. “If you took that one step further you’d be accusing me of scientific misconduct, which I would take great offense to. And any allegation of that has been generally met with a letter from my lawyer.”

    Was I being unfair? InSite is a radical experiment, new to North America and paid for by taxpayers. Kerr and company are obligated to explain their methods and defend their philosophy without issuing veiled threats of legal action.”

    In the media, Kerr frequently mentions the “peer review” status of his studies, implying that studies published in medical journals are unassailable. Rubbish. Journals often publish controversial studies to attract readers — publication does not necessarily equal endorsement. The InSite study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a favourite reference of InSite champions, appeared as a “letter to the editor” sandwiched between a letter about “crush injuries” in earthquakes and another on celiac disease.”

    Really? What kind of “science” produces dozens of studies, within the realm of public health, a notoriously volatile research field, with positive outcomes 100 per cent of the time? Those results should raise the eyebrows of any first-year stats student.”

    And who’s more likely to be swayed by personal bias? InSite opponents, questioning government-sanctioned hard drug abuse? Or Montaner, Kerr and their handful of acolytes who’ve staked their careers on InSite’s survival? From 2003 to 2011, the BC Centre received $2,610,000 from B.C. taxpayers to “study” InSite. How much money have InSite critics received?”

    There has never been an independent analysis of InSite, yet, if you base your knowledge on Vancouver media reports, the case is closed. InSite is a success and should be copied nationwide for the benefit of humanity. Tangential links to declining overdose rates are swallowed whole. Kerr’s claims of reduced “public disorder” in the neighbourhood go unchallenged, despite other mitigating factors such as police activity and community initiative. Journalists note Onsite, the so-called “treatment program” above the injection site, ignoring Onsite’s reputation among neighbourhood residents as a spit-shined flophouse of momentary sobriety.”

    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/pubs/_sites-lieux/insite/index-eng.php

    Reducing the Transmission of Blood-Borne Viral Infections & Other Injection Related Infections

    “Self-reports from users of the INSITE service and from users of SIS services in other countries indicate that needle sharing decreases with increased use of SISs. Mathematical modeling, based on assumptions about baseline rates of needle sharing, the risks of HIV transmission and other variables, generated very wide ranging estimates for the number of HIV cases that might have been prevented. The EAC were not convinced that these assumptions were entirely valid.
    SISs do not typically have the capacity to accommodate all, or even most injections that might otherwise take place in public. Several limitations to existing research were identified including:
    Caution should be exercised in using mathematical modelling for assessing cost benefit/effectiveness of INSITE, given that:
    There was limited local data available regarding baseline frequency of injection, frequency of needle sharing and other key variables used in the analysis;
    While some longitudinal studies have been conducted, the results have yet to be published and may never be published given the overlapping design of the cohorts;
    No studies have compared INSITE with other methods that might be used to increase referrals to detoxification and treatment services, such as outreach, enhanced needle exchange service, or drug treatment courts.
    Some user characteristics relevant to understanding their needs and monitoring change have not been reported including details of baseline treatment histories, frequency of injection and frequency of needle sharing.
    User characteristics and reported changes in injection practices are based on self-reports and have not been validated in other ways. More objective evidence of sustained changes in risk behaviours and a comparison or control group study would be needed to confidently state that INSITE and SISs have a significant impact on needle sharing and other risk behaviours outside of the site where the vast majority of drug injections still take place.”

    “It has been estimated that injection drug users inject an average six injections a day of cocaine and four injections a day of heroin. The street costs of this use are estimated at around $100 a day or $35,000 a year. Few injection drug users have sufficient income to pay for the habit out through employment. Some, mainly females get this money through prostitution and others through theft, break-ins and auto theft. If the theft is of property rather than cash, it is estimated that they must steal close to $350,000 in property a year to get $35,000 cash. Still others get the money they need by selling drugs.”

    http://www.vancouversun.com/little+evidence+harm+reduction+reduces+harm+more+than+good/8679087/story.html?fref=gc&dti=189308553419

    “In addition, the federal government’s Advisory Committee on Drug Injection Sites report only five per cent of drug addicts use the injection site, three per cent were referred for treatment and there was no indication the crime rate has decreased, as well as no indication of a decrease in AIDS and hepatitis C since the injection site was opened.”

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/massive-price-hike-for-lifesaving-opioid-overdose-antidote1/
    Massive Price Hike for Lifesaving Opioid Overdose Antidote

    Suddenly in demand, naloxone injector goes from $690 to $4,500

    Should we follow the money? Who would be profiting bigly from the increased use of naloxone?

    https://www.bramptonguardian.com/community-story/7520683-money-and-resources-for-drug-rehabilitation-sorely-needed-in-peel-say-advocates/

    “Setting up free injection sites to deal with the recent spate of drug overdoses does not address the root of the opioid problem, says Ted Brown, executive director of Brampton’s Regeneration Outreach Community.

    Instead, Queen’s Park and other tiers of governments should consider investing resources and dollars toward rehabilitation programs to help those dealing with addiction and mental health issues, said Brown. ”

    http://www.bcmj.org/premise/supervised-injection-sites%E2%80%94-view-law-enforcement
    Supervised injection sites—a view from law enforcement

    Jamie Graham, former chief of Vancouver Police has outlined the successful model of dealing with an epidemic: Support, mandatory treatment, abstinence, and counseling as all part of the solution. My recover(ed)(ing) addict friends say they would agree.

    https://mosaicscience.com/story/iceland-prevent-teen-substance-abuse
    Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn’t listening

    In Iceland, teenage smoking, drinking and drug use have been radically cut in the past 20 years. Emma Young finds out how they did it, and why other countries won’t follow suit.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/little+evidence+harm+reduction+reduces+harm+more+than+good/8679087/story.html?fref=gc&dti=189308553419

    “The current campaign reports significant reductions in drug overdoses, yet the Government of British Columbia Selected Vital Statistics and Health Status Indicators show that the number of deaths from drug overdose in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has increased each year (with one exception) since the site opened in 2003.”

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/05/05/pigeon-nest-needles-highlights-vancouvers-drug-problem/101323878/

    Pigeon nest of needles highlights Vancouver’s drug problem

    Some graphs about how overdoses in Vancouver, BC have increased:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4937e3e285c02900541696be294c99859dd986654fc2ea3b3b1f41f673618dc7.png

    One more: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d2f8aa542d4033a1f198a3b0e3e802482a4becf1e45b04e77079e989e5c6460a.jpg

    • Cydney M. says:

      You link to opinion pieces and have a notable lack of actual studies in your long-winded reply – just an assortment of commentary from various critics, without any data to show for it.

      You also clearly have no idea how to critically review data, and are parroting people who would take advantage of that ignorance. Suggesting that the safe injection site is somehow ineffective because overdose deaths are on the rise is ridiculous, considering drug use is on the rise literally everywhere across our continent, and expecting a single safe injection site to somehow stem the literal epidemic of drug use and overdoses is pretty absurd. Yes, overdoses are on the rise, because drug use as a whole is on the rise; no, this does not speak to the effectiveness of the safe injection site in Vancouver.

      The same goes for your commentary on disease – just because disease rates did not decline in the area of the safe injection site does not suggest that the safe injection site is ineffective at preventing the spread of disease, especially when evidence has shown that areas surrounding safe injection sites show a significant lack of new infections, while other parts of their host cities see a steady increase of new cases of infection. If disease rates are going up everywhere besides the areas where safe injection sites are located, that means they are being effective at stemming transmission.

      The quotes you mention about the state of the neighborhood Insite is located is are meaningless, as that neighborhood was in poor condition when they launched the facility, and they located it there specifically because of the high population of addicts in the area. Claims that the neighborhood “got worse” are unfounded, and data shows consistently that there is no increase in crime linked with safe injection sites, including the one in Vancouver. Again, the Vancouver Police Department support their safe injection site, and they are the ones patrolling the area, so they would know if there was an increase in crime correlated with opening the facility, and probably wouldn’t be actively supporting it if that were the case.

      The suggestion that Insite is ineffective at directing people towards treatment because the number of addicts who enter treatment at their on-site facility is low is quite misleading; for one, any amount of addicts turning towards treatment is good, so even minute increases in the number of people who seek treatment is still a victory, and two, these numbers fail to inlude the people who sought treatment off-site, including counseling, methadone clinics, etc. Thus, the rates you are suggesting people are seeking treatment at are artifically low.

      You link to sources well-known for being biased and unreliable, such as the Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice, which exists solely to perpetuate prohibitionist policies that favor harsh legal penalties over harm reduction strategies or approaches oriented in medical science – not surprising, given that they are funded by the U.S. Department of Justice. And clearly they have no evidence to support their assertions that ALL studies conducted on safe injection sites are bunk. You can call into question one study, or some studies, or question the work of one author, or a couple of authors, but you cannot issue a blanket statement asserting that every study done on the subject that does not agree with your stance is somehow invalid. That claim alone should raise suspicion about any report issued from an institution that would make such a wild accusation.

      This also holds true to the accusations made toward the pair of authors in Vancouver that suggests their research is unreliable; even if you want to totally discount every finding they have ever produced (not that I’m suggesting you should), this would not invalidate the findings presented by other authors that reach the same conclusions, of which there are plenty.

      You also posted links to findings that support what I have said about safe injection sites, such as the Final Report of the Expert Advisory Committee on Supervised Injection Site Research, which concludes that sharing of needles decreases, no increase in crime in the area, encourages people to seek treatment, etc. So, I guess, thanks for reiterating the information I already put out there in favor of safe injection sites.

      Noting a hike in the price of naloxone means absolutely nothing in this debate; suggesting that we stop using life-saving medicine because the manufacturer hiked the price is preposterous, and I wouldn’t even imagine entertaining that thought. You don’t let people die because the medication to save them is expensive. You can discuss regulating the pharmaceutical industry – and we should – but you cannot advocate letting people die of overdose because the company producing the medication to reverse them is taking advantage of the increased demand for the product, due to an opioid epidemic in our society. And, it is way cheaper to administer narcan on-site at a safe injection facility than it is to send out an entire first responder team to administer narcan, treat them for any other injuries they might have incurred from injection or overdosing, then take the person to the hospital, evaluate them, etc. etc. There is research that shows the cost-effectiveness of safe injection sites vs. outbound emergency response calls. Also, people are often alone when injecting, so there may not be anyone around to call for help, or those who are nearby might fear getting into trouble themselves and hesitate to call, which can, and does, literally make the difference between life and death.

      I also just want to point out that your whole tirade here focuses almost solely on Vancouver’s safe injection site, while primarily ignoring the other programs operating around the world that mirror similar results.

      In summation, I find your rebuttal here to be pointless and devoid in any substantive evidence disproving the scores of data compiled by various researchers around the world and supported by respected medical institutions and organizations. Nice try, though.

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