As the nation continues to grapple with a heroin crisis, a number of states and municipalities are taking some novel, borderline controversial, approaches to addressing the problem. As of late, a number of lawmakers in conservative states that have been hit hard by prescription opioid and heroin abuse, have changed their position regarding clean hypodermic needle exchanges. On top of increasing access to clean needles, in some places addicts and their families can now acquire the life saving overdose reversal drug naloxone without a prescription. What’s more, in select areas, children are being taught how to administer the drug.
Safe Injection Sites
Seattle, Washington, on top of being well known for grunge rock and coffee, has long been home to forward thinking. With the opioid epidemic affecting millions of Americans and taking several lives every day, the city has moved towards what some might call radical thinking. Seattle may become the first city in the country to provide heroin users with safe injection sites, Seattle Weekly reports. People who inject drugs would be allowed to use under medical supervision – without fear of arrest. As far fetched as the approach may sound, there are number of influential people in the city who are on board or at least open to the idea, including Mayor Ed Murray.
“The evidence base is very clear,” says Dr. Caleb Banta-Green, a drug-abuse researcher at the University of Washington, “ . . . that [safe drug sites] have very good health outcomes and do not have a big downside.”
The incoming City Council members support, or are open to, safe drug injection locations, according to the article. The Public Defender Association and the Capitol Hill Community Council support injection sites, and Mayor Murray is considering the approach but needs to learn more about how they would function.
Safe injecting sites would likely reduce the number of overdose deaths in the area, and provide a forum for substance abuse counselors to reach addicts who would otherwise be in the shadows. Such sites would also reduce infectious disease transmission, which is vital when you consider that in 70 percent of injection-drug users are infected with hepatitis C in Seattle.
If you or a loved one struggle with opioid addiction, please contact Design for Change.