Can safe injection sites curb ongoing opioid crisis? - Sovereign Health Group
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01-17-18 Category: Addiction, Substance Abuse

Can safe injection sites curb ongoing opioid crisis?

In the wake of the opioid epidemic ravaging the United States, cities like San Francisco, Seattle, Denver and New York City are considering to allow supervised injection facility (SIF) for people with addiction to heroin and other opioids. Such safe sites would cater exclusively to individuals hooked on heroin or opioids, providing them with a space to use the drugs under proper medical supervision.

However, the move has met resistance from law enforcement authorities, residents and the federal government. Opponents of the proposal argued that the idea seemed very divisive, whereas advocates saw it as a means to provide a bridge to treatment. Though two major cities – Philadelphia and Seattle — are seriously mulling over the idea of a city-sponsored safe injection site, there is none in the U.S. as of now.

In the present situation, Philadelphia seems to get its own injection site soon as city’s new district attorney Larry Krasner assured that users at the site would not be prosecuted. “Supervised injection sites are a form of harm reduction,” Krasner said. Besides, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney plans to announce his move to build the city’s first supervised injection site. Currently, he is closely working with his team members, including opponents, to give shape to the initiative.

The city of Seattle in King County can also get its first SIF soon. Though an official date to set up the facility is still awaited, authorities are confident that the first-of-its-kind initiative will be a big success after its completion. In late 2017, a King County judge had dismissed a petition opposing the site, saying that it amounted to an infringement on the decision-making capacity of the County Board of Health.

Benefits of SIFs

At present, there are about 100 official SIFs worldwide where drug users can shoot up under the watch of professional staff. In North America, the first safe injection site was opened in Vancouver, Canada, in 2003. Experts feel that an SIF can help combat the opioid crisis as it offers sterile injection equipment, information about side effects of drugs, counseling and access to medical staff.

Studies have shown that safe injection sites can reduce overdose deaths, discourage more drug use and increase the number of people entering addiction treatment. A 2017 study regarded SIF as a very cost-effective initiative to bring significant decrease in overdose-related problems as well as in HIV and Hepatitis C infections.

Combating menace of heroin addiction

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heroin-related overdose deaths have more than quadrupled since 2010. From 2014 to 2015, heroin overdose death rates increased by 20.6 percent, with nearly 13,000 people dying in 2015 alone. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), individuals struggling with addiction to a prescription opioid are more likely to use heroin due to identical chemical structures and euphoria-causing properties of the two substances. Moreover, once addicted to painkillers or other prescription opioids, many chronic users automatically switch over to heroin, which is easy to procure and cheaper. Nevertheless, heroin is an illicit opioid, classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970.

If you or a loved one is struggling to break free from addiction to heroin or any other drug, contact Sovereign Health of San Clemente, which offers a variety of customized therapies for heroin addiction treatment in California. Our licensed clinicians use several approaches for resolving each underlying problem. Our treatments for heroin addiction are tailored to individual needs in order to treat a person holistically. For more information, call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our representatives.

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