RETRACTED: Damning study shows Seattle’s heroin injection advocates are dead wrong

Aug 28, 2018, 6:00 AM | Updated: Oct 4, 2018, 4:32 pm
safe injection site, heroin injection site, safe injection sites...

RETRACTION: The study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy that this story relies on has since been retracted.


We know heroin injection sites don’t treat heroin addiction, which is precisely why advocates never point to data suggesting they get addicts off the drug that is ruining their lives before, inevitably, killing them.

RELATED: Seattle considered mobile safe injection site

But Seattle advocates, in their quest to bring these sites to the area, love to claim their idea will save the lives of addicts by cutting down on needle sharing and diseases associated with that behavior.

Well, they’re wrong.

A damning new study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy suggests the talking points used by advocates like Seattle Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda and Lorena Gonzalez aren’t based in reality.

It turns out, the studies that advocates used to promote heroin injection sites were deeply flawed. Per German Lopez (who once advocated for heroin injection sites) of Vox:

One of the problems the review found is that the research is seriously lacking in this area. Out of the dozens of studies on the topic they found, the researchers concluded that only eight were rigorous and transparent enough to include in the review. With such a small pool of studies included, it’s possible — maybe even likely — that these few studies were in some ways biased, so future research could produce entirely different findings.

This was the first meta-analysis review on the topic.

Data doesn’t back up talking points

Of the 40 studies on the topic, the researchers booted the weak studies, such as those with data that couldn’t be replicated. It left them with eight meaningful studies to review.

They found, based on this data, that heroin injection sites “had no significant effect on most outcomes…” like “ambulance attendances relating to opioid-related events, overdose mortality … borrowing or sharing syringes and injecting equipment, and problematic heroin use or injection.”

“The contrast between the claims that are being made and what the evidence actually says are fairly disappointing,” according to Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford University, to Vox. Humphreys will be on KTTH Radio’s Jason Rantz Show this Friday, Aug. 31.

That so few meaningful studies exist should come as no surprise. Advocates often look to Vancouver BC’s Insite, the heroin injection site Seattle is trying to model theirs after, claim there’s plenty of evidence to back up its effectiveness. But there isn’t. One study that made the claim is highly controversial because the people who conducted the study were the ones in charge of the program.

Local expert reacts (with great bias)

Speaking of bias, perhaps that is what’s leading to one local critic taking issue with this meta-analysis.

“That’s surprising,” Dr. Caleb Banta-Green, at the University of Washington, said of this new analysis to KIRO 7. “And then you dig into it and realize they’re doing a different type of study. And they’re looking at eight studies of four locations, even though there are more than 100 locations around the world.”

Indeed, that’s exactly what they’re doing. They’re doing it because the other studies provided subpar results to review. And this meta-analysis was solid, per Lopez:

The eight studies, though, were meant to be the best that the researchers could find. The studies that were excluded were those for which the researchers couldn’t get full data sets and which didn’t have comparison groups — fairly big methodological gaps.

This is typical in meta-analyses: The ideal is randomized controlled trials. But if none exist, researchers start looking at other kinds of studies, while maintaining some level of rigor, to tease out the evidence that is available.

And what the KIRO 7 piece inadvertently left out is that Banta-Green was part of the task force recommending that heroin injection sites be opened in King County. So this meta-analysis flies in the face of what he recommended.

And his message appears to be shifting, at least in part.

“It (safe injection sites) may not help with mortality rates,” Banta-Green admitted to KIRO 7. “I suspect it does, but it’s small.”

But in March of 2017, Banta-Green pushed this idea as saving lives to The Seattle Times: “I believe there is fundamental value in keeping people alive.”

Only, it’s not keeping people alive. And now, not only is there evidence to suggest it, Banta-Green is acknowledging it may not save lives. I’m not willing to ruin any more Seattle neighborhoods; I don’t want them becoming what the neighborhood hosting InSite has become. I’ve been there. It’s horrible.

Now, like I suspect is the case with Banta-Green, I have bias, too. I am against the heroin injection sites because I don’t think it’s ethical or moral to enable addicts to destroy their lives — even if it’s more slowly than they otherwise would be acting. I believe in treatment on-demand and free addiction services across the board.

The difference, however, is my bias is backed by actual data. This data isn’t the end-all, be-all. It simply shows the talking points Progressives are using are wrong. If you show me data suggesting heroin injection sites actually get people off of heroin, I’ll happily change my positions. The advocates, like Mosqueda and Gonzales? They have nothing but blind ideology on their side.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekdays 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on AM 770 KTTH Radio (also heard on HD Radio 97.3 FM HD Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
  • listen to jason rantzTune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-6pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.

Jason Rantz Show

Jason Rantz

Frank Sumrall

State Rep: ‘None of these locations are suitable’ for a future airport

According to Jason Rantz, the acting chairman of CACC, Warren Hendrickson, stated he believes none of the airport locations will move forward.
3 days ago
Frank Sumrall

Ballard brewery owner nearly loses business to homeless fire

Bad Jimmy’s Brewing Co. in Ballard was nearly destroyed after a fire created by a homeless person nearly engulfed the property in flames.
4 days ago
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Shocking ignorance as Seattle Public Health blames drug ODs on racism, drug laws

Seattle Public Health is breathtakingly out of touch with the local drug crisis. It's no wonder more addicts keep dying on our streets.
5 days ago
Max Gross

Gross: Can anti-intrusion fog system stop Seattle crime in its tracks?

DensityUSA makes ‘anti-intrusion fogging systems’ that are meant to make it impossible for criminals to see once a break-in occurs.
6 days ago
women prison inmates...
Jason Rantz Show

WA Rep: Bill to protect women inmates, transgenders ‘going nowhere’

WA Rep. Jacobsen co-authored a bill that proposes if someone's been convicted of sex crimes, they cannot be housed near women inmates.
6 days ago
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Identity-obsessed Progressives can’t fathom crime without racism

We were shocked, disgusted, and maybe angry, but we saw them for what they were without defaulting the blame on racism.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
RETRACTED: Damning study shows Seattle’s heroin injection advocates are dead wrong