It’s a devastating fact that heroin-related overdoses are killing people in record numbers. Everyone has opinions about how to best tackle the problem, and while the proposed solutions are varied, some are more controversial than others. One such proposal being put forth by some lawmakers is the idea of having supervised facilities, where heroin users can inject “safely.”
Heroin Injection Facilities
The mayor of New York, Svante Myrick, has firsthand experience with addiction, having dealt with it in his immediate family. After extensive research and collaboration with law enforcement, business owners, and treatment professionals, he is proposing an alternative to the standard treatment vs. jail debate. The idea is, addicts would be able to use heroin under close medical supervision, similar to a methadone clinic. The benefits of this model are that it would hopefully reduce rates of not only disease transmission, but of overall overdose fatalities. Rather than decriminalizing heroin, the state legislature would simply provide immunity under the facility’s conditions (though this is not the first step New York has taken to battle addiction). Similar moves are also being put forth in California and Seattle.
The Opposition Says
One barrier to such establishments is that federal law prohibits establishments that are specifically for use of illegal substances. This means that at some point, the federal government would likely intercede, and would need to agree to essentially turn a blind eye and not prosecute the owners, employees, or participants. Many also feel that these types of facilities would simply condone and perpetuate addiction in our communities. Further, those in the addiction treatment and recovery community have argued that injection sites, clean needle exchange programs, and even the use of naloxone, all simply allow users to continue using- and that the motivation to quit or change becomes even lower.
Awareness is Key
The “right answer” to the heroin epidemic is still unclear- and maybe there isn’t one. But it is encouraging that lawmakers are beginning to look for solutions, and are aware that there are massive numbers of people in need of help.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to heroin or other opiates, call Serenity Acres today (1-800-203-2024) to see if inpatient treatment might be right for you.