Safe Injection Site: INSITE

In 2009 I visited the Downtown East Side's supervised safe injection house called INSITE. 5 years later this story and place is still relevant in our time. There are now 14,000 people registered to use the site, yet there are only 13 cubicles to occupy, and 12 beds for patients to detox. There is a growing demand for these services, yet the Harper government will not allow them to grow or open any new locations nationwide.

Insite is a building where drug users legally and safely inject themselves with illegal and unsafe drugs. Insite is open 18 hours a day supplying clean paraphernalia for 800 daily addicts. This is the only harm reduction program of its kind in North America and 1 of 60 in the world providing trained staff to intervene overdoses, and preventing hundreds of deaths a year.

How to get started:
First grabs some supplies your going to need some hypodermic needles, cotton balls, alcohol swabs, spoons, matches, tie-offs, and condoms. Some heroin aka Smack, Dope, Junk, Mud, Skag, Brown Sugar, Brown, 'H', Big H, Horse, Charley, China White, Boy, Harry, Mr. Brownstone, Dr. Feelgood will be the most important product to score. 

Here's some lingo that might help you find you way around the space:
Junkies – heroin addicts
Mainlining – injecting heroin into a vein
Skin-popping – injecting heroin just below the skin's surface
Chasing the Dragon – heating the drug until it begins to smoke, and inhaling the smoke through a straw
Speedballing – injecting heroin combined with cocaine
Crisscrossing – snorting heroin along with cocaine
Shabanging – sniffing liquefied heroin from nasal spray bottle
The Works / Outfit / Rig – a heroin user's set of tools and paraphernalia used for injection
Tie-off – used to tie around the arm (to constrict blood flow) in order to make a vein protrude


The Cubicle. Each cubicle has a chair, a surface, a needle deposit box, a camera, and a mirror. The mirror allows the user to see who’s behind them for thier safety, also giving them another view for injection. As the nurse spots the user with the mirror they are ready to act on an overdosing addict. If everything goes as planned the user hits their peak eight seconds later, relaxes and goes to the "chill out" room, where they talk to staff about getting clean, getting jobs, getting housing, and getting their lives back in order. With Kool-Aid. OH YEA!

Use To Use. This is Ernie Block. B-L-O-C-K. Use to live 10 miles away from Abbotsford. Use to be a logger. Used to have a Wife who use to be Miss Canada in 73' to 77'. Use to be a high ranked member of the Satan's Angels. Use to use meth and crack. And Currently his sister is a prostitute. 

Ernie shook my hand a few times was very enthusiastic about our new relationship. He was stoked on the past and cried when he started talking about present time, and had nothing to say about the future other then us meeting up on Sunday.

When Ernie approached me outside of Insite He asked me for some crack, and told me he quite shooting and smoking five years ago. I later asked to see his hands. They had recent pipe burns. Ernie told some good stories whether they were true or not they were far more interesting then most peoples. Even the third time around. 

Looking for a hit. This lady scavenges for money while looking for crack on the ground of the ally. She'll spend up to $200 and receive at least one non-fatal overdose in her drug use cycle.

Collapsed veins
Clogged blood vessels in brain
liver disease
lung complications
heart infections
kidney failure

9/10 addicts who shoot at Insite have Hepatitis C

For more information please visit insite or learn more about why there is a movement to change drug policy at