The nation’s first safe injection sites have been approved in Seattle. Illegal drug users will be able to go to the sites which offer clean needles, medical supervision and access to quick acting drugs that can reverse the effects of an overdose. The idea is new in the United States although it has been popular in Europe for a long time. The idea of safe injection sites is spreading to other cities such as New York City, Ithaca and Boston.
The idea of the new sites drew flak from opponents. They said that this promotes illegal drug use on the other hand, supporters of the sites say that they help keep people alive and can help lead drug addicts on the road to rehabilitation. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said that these sites will save lives and that is the goal in Seattle.
Kelly Dineen, a health law professor at Saint Louis University School of Law says that under federal law, these sites are illegal because operation of facilities were drugs are used are prohibited under the Controlled Substance Act. The King County Board of Health had unanimously voted earlier this month to approve two sites. Dow Constantine, Murray and King county executive, gave the final approval on Friday as reported by Breitbart.
A record of 33,000 people died from opioid overdose in 2015 according to the CDC data. According to the report, opioid overdoses now kill more people than car accidents. In 2015, gun homicide numbers were surpassed by the number of heroin deaths across the nation. In addition to heroin, powerful prescription painkillers and fentanyl, a potent synthetic opiate, kill people.
Jessie Gaeta, chief medical officer of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, states that in order to bend the curve of death, safe injection sites is going to have a key part in the strategy. In Seattle, the King County Board of Health had unanimously voted earlier this month to endorse the two sites. The health officer for Seattle and King County, Jeff Duchin states that there status quo is not working anywhere and new tools will have to be found.
Duchin states that officials hope to open the Seattle site within the year. The sites will be aimed at homeless drug users with the goal of providing them basic services in health care and ultimately, drug treatment. Over the next three years, officials plan to collect data and study how many people they attract, whether users of the sites go on to drug rehabilitation and treatment and whether overdose deaths are prevented as reported by adn.com.