NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Nuns To Run "Injecting Room" In New South Wales

August 13, 1999

After a radical overhaul of the drug laws in New South Wales, Australia, flowing from a drug summit held last May, those caught with small amounts of heroin, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines or ecstasy will receive a caution instead of a penalty. And nuns who run one of Australia's best known hospitals are to operate the country's first legal and medically supervised heroin injecting room.

There are already injecting rooms in the United States and Europe. The 18-month injecting-room-trial in Sydney will be administered by the Sisters of Charity, who also run the inner- city St. Vincent's Hospital.

  • An estimated 50,000 visits a year by drug users are expected at the center, which will be staffed by a medical supervisor, a registered nurse and security staff.
  • The controversial plan will include the provision of clean needles and syringes; users must supply their own drugs; and they will be encouraged to seek counseling and treatment for their habit.
  • The room will also have a coffee bar, subsidized cafeteria, and perhaps even showers and clean clothes.

Source: Christopher Zinn, "Nuns to Run First Heroin Injecting Room," British Medical Journal, August 14, 1999.


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