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Officials Push for Safe Injection Sites in Boston at City Council

Officials Push for Safe Injection Sites in Boston at City Council
Author: Justin Mckibben

For some time now government officials in different states across America have been pushing for the implementation of safe injection sites in their neighborhoods to combat the perpetual rise of opioid addiction and overdose death. This time last year there were proposals in New York, California and Washington D.C. to open such facilities. With the rising rates of overdose and death more officials have asked for the opportunity to at least examine the potential impact of safe injection sites. Now, officials are pushing for safe injection sites in Boston.

This request didn’t come lightly, either. The Massachusetts Medical Society is actually imploring state officials to open a safe injection site within the City of Boston, with desperate hope of curbing the numbers of casualties.

Safe Injection Presented to City Council

The Boston city council members heard arguments both for and against safe injection sites in Boston, and the debate is on as to what to do with the information.

Advocates for safe injection sites in Boston believe such facilities save lives by making emergency medical treatment immediately available. Dr. Henry Dorkin with the Massachusetts Medical Society supports the idea, stating:

“In fact, if you don’t have them in a facility with Narcan readily available, they’ll die very quickly,”

Just to clarify, safe injection sites are secure locations with medical staff available where addicts can use heroin under medical supervision. It provides what could be considered neutral ground where the drug user will not have to worry about being charged with criminal possession, while also having a first line of defense against overdose. Safe injection sites do not provide drugs, they simply provide the space and with some clean needles are also available.

Probably one of the most popular examples used by advocates of safe injection sites has been the famous facility in Vancouver, Canada that helped save dozens of lives. City Councilors Anissa Essaibi-George and Frank Baker, who requested the hearing, point out that the safe injection sites in Vancouver reduced fatal opioid overdoses by 35%.

This kind of decrease in overdose fatalities would make a huge difference in Massachusetts. The state Department of Public Health says the state’s top cause of accidental death so far this year is opioid overdose. The department says an average of 6 people a day in Massachusetts die from opioid overdoses in 2017, making. A 35% decrease would make a tremendous improvement on the community.

Anti-Injection Sites Argument

Opponents of safe injection sites in Boston say that these facilities do nothing to address the true problem, which is addiction. Sue Sullivan of the Newmarket Business Association states:

“It’s an existence. We need to figure out how we’re going to save these people and it’s not safe injection sites,”

Looking at the Vancouver statistics was apparently not enough to convince the entire city council. One feature of safe injection sites is that they often have a team of treatment professionals who encourage addicts who visit the facility to get treatment. They provide information about safe medical detox and other levels of care to those who are interested in getting help. However, one city council member, Frank Baker, states:

“263,000 visits a year by 6,500 individuals. And it has only 404 referrals to onsite detox,”

Some officials believe that this measure of harm reduction isn’t enough to really solve the issue without getting more people into drug addiction treatment and off the streets.

Possible Benefits of Safe Injection Sites in Boston

The primary function of safe injection sites is to preserve life. The idea is that while it may not be a lasting solution, it is a way to save lives. Safe injection sites allow people struggling to have the opportunity to survive their addiction long enough to get treatment. Beyond slowing down drug related deaths, safe injection sites in Boston could offer a number of other positive outcomes.

In May of last year we also covered a report titled Alternatives to Public Injection in which experts with experience operating supervised injection facilities (SIFs) shared data that shows:

  1. People who use SIFs take better care of themselves
  2. SIFs reduce or eliminate addicts needle sharing
  3. Ultimately, participants reduce their drug use all together
  4. SIF participants gain access to other medical and social services
  5. Participants have resources to seek addiction treatment
  6. SIFs do not increase drug use in the surrounding area
  7. Crime and public disturbances decrease in the areas around these programs
  8. There has not been a SINGLE overdose death in any of these programs over many years of operation

Rates of people visiting safe injection sites attending treatment may not be as good as they could be. However, the fact that they have no experienced a single overdose death at these facilities is an incredible improvement.

Are we going to see safe injection sites in Boston? Are more American cities going to consider this option? Is having a safe injection site a good idea?

While getting the right kind of safe and effective addiction treatment can create lasting change, preventing the ongoing deaths from drugs is also a worthy cause. Holistic healing programs are designed to address every aspect of addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Vancouver Injection Clinics

Vancouver injection clinics may sounds like a common theme but there is actually only one legal injection clinic in Vancouver. This injection clinic is known as Insite. This Vancouver injection clinic is located in Vancouver, British Columbia in the Downtown Eastside. Vancouver injection clinics, specifically Insite, offers a safe place that is health focused for injection drug users. These injection drug users primarily abuse heroin, cocaine, and morphine.  Vancouver injection clinics don’t supply the drugs but the medical staff is present to provide addiction treatment, mental health assistance, and first aid if any of it is needed. The first aid is especially important in the event of an overdose or wound. Vancouver injection clinics usually see around 300,000 thousand drug users a year, around 700 visits a day. Only around 480 overdoses have occurred and none of them were fatal.

Vancouver injection clinics are paid for by Health Canada which has provided half a million dollars per year to operate the injection sites. The BC Ministry of Health has given over a million dollars to renovate the injection clinic, Insite and to cover the costs to operate it.  Believe it or not the police are in on the Vancouver injection clinics too. Partners of the Vancouver injection clinics are the Vancouver Police Department, and the PHS Community Services Society. Vancouver injection clinics also get support from many higher ups, such as, Vancouver’s mayor Gregor Robertson, former mayor Sam Sullivan, Premier of BC Gordon Campbell, and former mayors Larry Campbell, Mike Harcourt, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees. The Chinatown and Gastown merchants associations are also now in support of the Vancouver injection clinics. International support also exists for these injection sites in Vancouver. For instance Senlis Council, the Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform and the American Drug Policy Alliance.

This doesn’t mean that Vancouver injection clinics don’t draw criticism either. The Bush administration and the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy termed Vancouver injection clinics “state sponsored suicide”. The Canadian Police Association also voted against funding Vancouver injection clinics.

Vancouver injection clinics are operated by Vancouver Coastal Health and the Portland Health Society.

The research for Vancouver injection clinics shows that it has tons of benefits which include but are not limited to:

  • Reductions in public injecting
  • Reduction in syringe sharing
  • Increase in the use of detox services
  • Increase in the use of addiction treatment
  • Decrease in overdose deaths

Vancouver injection clinics also successfully attract injection users and therefore decrease public injecting.

Vancouver injection clinics or ‘Insite’ has strong local support. Vancouver injection clinics are well liked all throughout British Columbia and its popularity is highest within Vancouver. 76% of the residents of Vancouver were in support of injection clinics. Vancouver injection clinics are places that IV drug users can go and meet normal people with smiles on their faces that will give them everything they need to shoot up in a clean and safe environment. This is severely controversial and raises a lot of eyebrows especially within the United States. Although within Vancouver there is definitely an acceptance of it.

If you or someone you know needs heroin, cocaine and morphine treatment please call us at 800-951-6135 or visit us online at www.palmpartners.com.

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