Study Finds No Link Between Medical Heroin and Crime

A researcher studying the effect of supervised injection sites on Montreal and Vancouver communities found no relation between providing heroin to drug addicts at medically supervised clinics and neighborhood crime, the Montreal Gazette reported Feb. 18.

Serge Brochu from the University of Montreal’s School of Criminology studied neighborhoods in Montreal and Vancouver that hosted the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI) — a Canadian study in which participants received heroin under the supervision of nurses, doctors, psychiatrists and social workers.

“There’s always this ’not in my back yard’ attitude,” said Brochu, the study’s author. “It’s good for the patient, but if it’s not good for the community, (then) we have a problem.”

Brochu and his team conducted repeat site visits, studied crime data, and interviewed residents, merchants, social workers and security guards to ascertain the effect of the NAOMI study on the neighboring community. They reported neither an increase in crime in the neighborhood nor deterioration in the neighboring community.

“This program should live and the government should continue to fund it,” Brochu said, citing the beneficial effect on the health of the drug user and the lack of negative neighborhood impact.

Researchers have been advocating for continued funding for the clinic for nearly two years, but the office of Quebec’s minister for social services said the final NAOMI report has yet to be analyzed.

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