SUPERVISED DRUG INJECTION FACILITIES IN CA
It’s been all over the news. The US News & World Report health section wrote earlier this month: A lawmaker wants to allow California addicts to use heroin, crack, and other drugs at supervised facilities to cut down on overdoses joining several U.S. cities considering establishing the nation’s first legal drug-injection sites.
With the reach of the current heroin epidemic nearly everywhere, the idea of developing supervised injection facilities in the United States seems to be growing in popularity.
But, first of all, what is supervised heroin use?
According to DrugWarFacts.org, drug consumption rooms are professionally supervised healthcare facilities where drug users can consume drugs in safer environments. Benefits of these facilities include attracting hard to reach populations that are marginalized, many of whom use drugs in the streets or under many other risky and unhygienic conditions. Furthermore, these supervised facilities could be used as a teaching platform to train clients in safer drug use.
According to the New York Times, with heroin prices being relatively cheap and widely available on city streets throughout the country, drug users are making their buys and shooting up as soon as they can, often in increasingly more public places. Police officers are routinely finding drug users, either dead or unconscious in bathrooms, parks, transit malls, etc. The New York Times further explains that nationally 125 people a day die from drug overdoses, 78 of them from heroin and painkillers. The physical and even psychological cravings are so great for an addict that they will often take relief for their pain at the earliest opportunity. Here is where a supervised heroin use facility could play a decisive role.
WHAT IS SUPERVISED HEROIN USE & ARE YOU FOR OR AGAINST IT?
Supervised heroin use facilities could provide many paybacks. Currently operating drug supervised establishments in Europe, Australia, and Canada report the following benefits:
- Reduce risky behavior likely to lead to the transmission of infectious diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS, among population of drug users
- By providing conscious training about proper dose usage, it could reduce the number of fatal incidents due to overdose. This can minimize the number of fatalities among this population.
- Access to proper health care is one of the main issues this population encounters. These facilities could serve as a contact point between drug abusers and social services and health care networks.
- Minimize the number of public order problems, particularly by minimizing open drug scenes, reducing drug use in public places, recovering used syringes, and reducing the impact of drug problems on residential areas.
- Many drug users who are undergoing treatment need a reliable support network and these supervised injection facilities might act as such and help them keep their commitment to get clean.
- A facility in Vancouver, Canada has seen savings in social costs due to decreased emergency room visits.
One of the main health problems associated with heroin consumption is users engaging in sexually-risky behavior and thus increasing their chance of getting infected with HIV/AIDS. So now that we know what supervised heroin use is, we wonder: Is it a good solution for treating the epidemic? And if so, how do we go about it?
However, many argue that these kinds of establishments could possibly increase the number of people addicted to drugs. Non-supporters of this idea claim that these facilities could be interpreted as a legalization of drug use and thus people would have no legal restraint to try drugs and potentially get hooked by them. Critics also point out that such sites would likely open local governments and officials to a variety of civil liability issues. Advocates counter that the risks are very similar to the current risks already inherent in operating a needle exchange program.
COULD SUPPORTERS AND DETRACTORS COME TO A CONSENSUS?
Well, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, a pilot facility could be implemented; with results checked within a certain time period. Depending on the results of such pilot phase, for example a decrease is seen in the number of deaths from drug overdose, the sharing of needles, risky sex behaviors, and overall consumption of drugs then the proposal could be revisited.
What is your take on the subject? Are you pro drug facility establishment or do you agree that this initiative could increase people’s desire to try drugs, thus growing the epidemic? Share your opinions with us @BlvdCenters or in our Facebook page BLVD Treatment Centers.
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Drug Policy Alliance. Supervised Injection Facilities. Retrieved April 2016
The New York Times. Heroin Epidemic Increasingly Seeps into Public View. Retrieved April 2016
DrugWarFacts.org. Supervised Consumption Facilities, Safe Injection Facilities, & Drug Consumption Rooms (SCFs, SIFs, and DCRs) Retrieved April 2016
US News, Health section. California Lawmakers Wants to Allow Supervised Heroin Use. Retrieved April 2016