Safe Injection Sites – If you know what they are then you probably have a strong opinion about them one way or another. Like this community, you may have had one strong opinion and then after doing more research, changed your mind for certain reasons. First of all, what are safe injection sites? Many think it means a place on the body where you can safely stick a needle so that you don’t cause harm to yourself or overdose on heroin. But this simply isn’t the case. So what is it? Why would the authorities and medical professionals even consider providing or funding it? Are you for or against safe injection sites?
What are Safe Injection Sites?
Safe Injection Sites are physical places provided by authorities or medical professionals for heroin users to go to so they can use heroin without being arrested and experience other “benefits”. At first, the Kill The Heroin Epidemic Nationwide community thought this was a terrible idea. Frankly, it sounded like enabling an addict and making it convenient and easy to use without any repercussion, penalties or consequences. And while this is somewhat true, there are three distinct benefits to Safe Injection Sites that we want to share and discuss in this article.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Safe Injection Sites
Many believe that the only way a man or woman suffering from the disease of addiction will eventually seek help and treatment is if they experience consequences. By opening a safe injection site, the heroin user is protected from being arrested. This eliminates one consequence but it doesn’t eliminate others. Men and women who suffer from Substance Use Disorder will still have to buy their own heroin, take the risk of dying, risk losing their job(s), experience monetary loss, experience relationship problems, etc. However, whether or not protection from the law at safe injection sites can be debated as an advantage or a disadvantage. Many tout sentences like”Jail is not treatment” and “Addicts should not be arrested because they have a disease.” If you believe this, than you likely see protection from being arrested as an advantage. However others believe that addicts should pay the price for using drugs because they are doing something illegal and harmful. Unfortunately, many still believe that those suffering from substance use disorder don’t deserve help and should just be punished. However, others believe they should be helped but that jail time will help them.
The above aside, there are 3 distinct advantages to safe injection sites which is why Kill The Heroin Epidemic Nationwide as a community is in favor of Safe Injection Sites. For starters, Safe Injection Sites fall into the category of “Harm Reduction”, similar to Methadone and Suboxone. This is because of the 3 benefits I will describe below.
1. Minimizing Heroin Overdose Related Death – Because there will be trained individuals and possibly even medical professionals on site, in the event an overdose occurs, they can and will apply Narcan (naloxone) which is very likely to prevent the heroin user from dying.
2. Encouraging Addiction Treatment and Drug Rehab – We know that not everyone is a candidate for private drug rehab facilities if they don’t have a plethora of cash or the right PPO insurance policy. However, there is other kinds of help available. Trained medical professionals, recovery advocates and counselors on site can and will encourage those who are at the safe injection sites using to get treatment and provide them with information on rehab and other forms of less expensive treatment
3. Minimizing/Eliminating Diseases – At safe injection sites, new (clean) needles (often called “works” in the streets) will be applied so those who inject heroin aren’t sharing or using dirty needles. Sharing or using dirty needles is the only way to obtain Hepatitis C and other heroin/drug transmitted diseases. Thus, by going to safe injection sites, heroin users will be able to use clean needles, minimizing disease and death.
Funding for Safe Injection Sites
Recently, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania legalized safe injection sites and decided to give it a try. There’s been a debate as to whether or not funding is being improperly provided and that more funding should be given to creating drug treatment centers for those without insurance or cash. After all, many want and need help but are being turned away from drug rehabs because they don’t have the right PPO insurance policies. Thus, instead of funding safe injection sites which arguably does or does not help get more people into treatment, some argue that funding should be used for the ones ready to get addiction help and treatment today. What do you think?
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Written by William Charles, Owner and Publisher of Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™, Heroin News, and the National Alliance of Addiction Treatment Centers (NAATC)
We are a community for recovering heroin addicts providing support and recommending the best treatments and clinics to people interested in conquering their addiction.
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