Safe Injection Sites
In Ithaca, NY there are rumors of a new drug safe injection site in the works. An injection site is considered a safe place for people to use intravenous drugs under the supervision of health care providers, thus decreasing the probability of overdose and death. Supervised Injection Sites or SIS have been a reality in Canada and elsewhere in the world for years but they have not been authorized in the United States due to a lack of government support. The United States needs catch up and join other prosperous nations in how the issue of illegal drug use is addressed.
Cold Hard facts
Despite initial conjecture that the safe injection sites would promote and increase illegal drug use the results of scientific studies have proven that they actually do the opposite. The results of 15 years of data collection in Canada has shown an improvement in the local drug problem. These harm reduction programs have succeeded in decreasing the number of people using drugs intravenously and had a significant impact on the spread of disease due to drug use.
All required equipment for injecting IV drugs is supplied at the safe injection site as well as the safe disposal of used needles and other potentially hazardous items. Staff is on-site and able to respond immediately in the event of an overdose. One Canadian safe injection site, InSite, recorded over 1400 overdoses between 2004 and 2010, where not a single death occurred and a 35% decrease in overdoses at the injection site compared to only 9% citywide. Additionally, they are providing medical support such as immunizations and wound care to people who would not otherwise have access to health care.
Stepping Stone in the Right Direction
Perhaps the most important aspect of the SIS is that drug addicts are able to gain access to support services such as counseling, mental health care, support groups and referrals to further treatment options. People in their active addiction who otherwise would be left in the dark are able to get exposure to the idea of recovery. Being able to reach and converse openly with active drug users is vitally important in order to help people suffering from the disease of addiction into recovery. People working in these safe injection sites are able to build a report and gain the trust of active addicts when nearly no one else is able to. The opportunity to be close to someone when they become open to the idea of recovery is priceless.
The results are in for safe injection sites and they are clearly working to better the lives of addicts and society in general. With the rise of heroin in America and all the risks that come with drug use, we must have a complete overhaul to how we tackle the problem of drugs in our county. We need to build these SISs in neighborhoods most affected by illegal drug use. We need to create the avenues into recovery and bridge the gaps between the streets and costly treatment institutions. These sites have worked elsewhere so why are they not already here in the United States?