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Crime, Drugs and Health Problems Face Vancouver's Downtown Eastside

TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec, July 14 /PRNewswire/ -- The city of Vancouver is one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in all of Canada, and will soon be hosting the 2010 winter Olympics. Vancouver is recognized worldwide and has an international reputation for many things. Unfortunately, an all too recognized reputation is the growing drug problems facing Vancouver's downtown eastside. "Our drug rehab program admits many people from that specific area in Vancouver," comments Nick Hayes, a representative of Narconon Trois-Rivieres. "The physical state that some of these people are in due to their intravenous drug use is sometimes very poor and requires some very intense rehabilitation." In 2004, the Justice Review Task Force reported that there were over 9000 intravenous drug users in Vancouver. In 2001, a Vancouver Coastal Health Study indicated there were 4700 intravenous drug users occupying the downtown eastside, and there were 12,000 in total throughout the lower mainland.

"Contracting infectious disease is one of the most dangerous aspects of intravenous drug use," said Hayes, "this is why the efforts made by needle exchange programs has made it somewhat safer for these users, but it's still important that treatment is the first option." The B.C. Center of Excellence in HIV/AIDS did a study on intravenous drug users and discovered that 62% were mostly men and 65% were Caucasian, all between the ages of 15 to 58. It was also reported that three quarters of these men have been to prison and two thirds of them were on welfare. Many people in Vancouver look at this as a crime problem, while others see it as a health problem, but the majority see it as both. Criminal activity and poor health are major problems facing many who live or operate in the downtown eastside. A 2003 study done by the Vancouver Police and Simon Fraser University found, out of 100 different users, half had said they spent $100 per day on illegal drugs, and 61% said they had committed crimes for drugs. For more information, visit the Narconon drug rehab website at,, or call 1-877-782-7409.

(Ref: Works Cited Elaine O'Connor "The search for a vein of hope." The Province 6 July 2009:

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