Photograph Supplement to Righteous Dopefiend, extended label
Located in the Moral Economy section in the museum and on page x in the book. Felix muscling in the abandoned shack in the alley behind the corner store.
Text panel in the museum:
On his mid-afternoon break from the Christmas tree lot, Felix motions for me to accompany him into the abandoned shack in the alley below the freeway. “Watch my back, Jeff.”
I can tell Felix is feeling the preliminary symptoms of dope sickness. He is yawning heavily, and his nose is dripping. Steady wages have jacked up his habit, and he is already worried because this steady work ends in two weeks on Christmas Eve.
Fear of arrest exacerbates risky injection practices, discouraging possession of clean syringes, and encouraging addicts to inject and hide paraphernalia in unsanitary locations. The “safest” places for the Edgewater homeless to inject heroin and to seek shelter are the filthy wastelands that surround publicly funded freeways.
Extended Label:What items can you find in this photograph that make this an unsafe and unhealthy environment? If you wouldn’t walk into this shack, why should Felix?
Do you think centers that can provide safe injection environments for users should be added to street-based outreach services, needle exchange programs, HIV-test counseling centers, drug treatment facilities, and broad-based, multi-targeted educational initiatives?
In the United States, people that use injection method drugs are at extreme risk for contracting HIV and HEP C. Endocarditis, an infection in the heart valves is also seen among users that have been injecting for over 5 years. The ever-present prospect of death by overdose, hangs over many.
Virtually all hospitals across the country deal with multiple ODs everyday. Since many users try to avoid hospital visits until they are in grave need, the visits are costly like acute care services, emergency room services, and therefore health care costs go up.
Safer Injection Facilities (SIF), is a developing public policy that has been implemented in sync with the ideas behind Harm Reduction. Countries like Germany, Australia, Switzerland, and even some North American states and Canada already house these centers. SIFs are legal facilities that enable the consumption of pre-obtained drugs in an anxiety and stress-free atmosphere, under hygienic and low risk conditions. They also focus on the services or referral capabilities to be offered on-site for linking injectors directly to drug treatment, primary care, counseling, and other social supports.
The main goals of these facilities are to:
Reduce the Burden of Illicit Drug Use on the Community
Create Opportunities to Work with Injectors
Reduce Rates and Risks of Drug Injection in Public Spaces
The information in this panel is based on research done by ROBERT S. BROADHEAD, THOMAS H. KERR, JEAN-PAUL C. GRUND, FREDERICK L. ALTICE. From the article in Journal of Drug Issues, 2002, Safer Injection Facilities in North America: There Place in Public Policy and Health Initiatives.
If you would like to learn more about SIFs, here are some helpful websites: