Why Do Safe Injection Sites Exist?

What is a safe injection site? A safe injection site, also known as ‘supervised injection facility’ or ‘drug consumption facility’ is a legally sanctioned, medically supervised facility which is designed to provide individuals with an addiction a safe and hygienic environment in which they can take illegal drugs intravenously. The idea is also to reduce nuisance from public drug use.

Do Safe Sites Reduce Harm?

People in favor of safe injection sites consider it a harm reduction initiative. Results from other countries with such safe sites prove that the concept works. For example, Canada has a supervised heroin injection site called ‘Insite’. It’s the first of it’s kind in North America, and it’s aim is to prevent the spread of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C, as well as prevent individuals who are using drugs from fatally overdosing. There are medical workers present in the and, if an individual starts to overdose they can administer Naloxone to reverse the process.

The statistics from Insite present a positive trend. Since the facility opened in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2003, the numbers show:

  • Approximately 800 daily visitors.
  • 10 to 20 overdoses weekly.
  • Zero fatalities.

A newly formed task force in Seattle, Washington is considering launching a safe injection site as a way to address the heroin crisis in the state. There is also a county in New York which is considering opening a safe injection site. For the US, it would be a new and radical approach to helping individuals with addiction in the community, as well as avoiding the spreading of dangerous diseases and shared needles.

What is the Purpose of Safe Injection Sites?

It is not the purpose of safe injection sites to legalize heroin. Heroin is still illegal, and ingesting it in a safe site will not make it legal, or the consumption of it legal. Of course this means the technicalities of operating such a site can be a little tricky. But is such a site a good idea?

A lot of people believe that safe injection sites promote drug abuse. They consider such sites ‘shooting galleries’. Shooting galleries were illicit for profit facilities, that used to exist in the 1980s in New York City and in the 1990s in Sydney, Australia. The way these shooting galleries were different was that the health of any users in their facilities was not the concern of the operators. This is where it’s important to remember that an aspect to remember is that any users in a safe injection site would also have access to medical services and counselling, as well as well as information and access to addiction treatment, should they choose it. What better way to plant the seed of quitting drugs and inspire a life change in an individual with addiction?

In the end, while safe injection sites may not be the best or only answer, they may at least make a difference in the lives of individuals with addiction, and give them a chance at recovery.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, call The Villa to find out how we can support your goals for sober living.