Philadelphia. Not only is the east coast city designated as the “City of Brotherly Love”, but it is also the city of many firsts. Philadelphia hosted America’s first birthday, is home to America’s first zoo, first hospital, first newspaper and may very soon be home to the country’s first ‘Safe Injection Site’ for Opioid Users.
Top Philadelphia officials are advocating that the city become the first supervised injection site in large part because of the number: 1200.
That is the days’ disheartening number. 1200. No doubt a large number no matter what it gives value to. This number transitions into a whole other realm of “why” when you learn that twelve hundred is the number of deaths attributed to drug overdoses in Philadelphia last year. Four times the city’s murder rate according to officials.
According to Wikipedia (bear with me now, I know it’s Wikipedia), a bridge is a structure built to span physical obstacles without closing the way underneath such as a body of water, valley, or road, for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle.
Providing passage over the obstacle; that is the key phrase here, which is what ‘Safe Injection Sites’ strive to do.
When you think about it, vaping too, is a bridge.
According to the American Cancer Society, it takes an estimated 8-10 attempts before a smoker is able to permanently quit his or her habit. The Australian Cancer Council suggests that it takes 12-14 attempts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the number of attempts at around 8 to 11. So, what does this information tell us? It tells us that quitting is hard. Very hard. Methods such as the patch, gum, lozenges and prescription pills are often unsuccessful and at times come with some very unpleasant side effects. Yet, even with this knowledge and the mounting scientific evidence supporting that e-cigarettes are in fact a better alternative to smoking cigarettes, there still exist those hell-bent on disqualifying vaping as a better alternative to smoking.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that between 40 and 60 percent of recovering drug addicts will eventually relapse. With heroin addicts, experts put this number as high as 80 percent.
A safe injection site is a hard concept to wrap the mind around. Many simply can’t understand how allowing people to bring their own drugs to shoot up under the watch of medical staff, in a facility that provides clean needles and other equipment will in anyway help with the opioid epidemic. Recently sworn in Philadelphia district attorney, Larry Krasner, is not one of them.
According to Krasner, “supervised injection sites are a form of harm reduction. The rise in opioid deaths in Philadelphia reflects a nationwide epidemic. The only way to get people to turn their lives around is to keep them alive long enough so they can do that.”
Patrick Trainer, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, disagrees.
“The concept, for us, with safe injection sites, is just not a concept we can get behind,” says Trainer.
Trainer and others worry that such a site would not only attract unwanted drug traffic but send a strong message that the city is looking the other way in the face of drug abuse.
“Is it going to stop with safe injection sites? Are we going to do that and then, next year and the year following, are we then going to be talking about, OK, there are still overdose deaths, so maybe we need to look into government-supplied drugs?” argues Trainer and many others.
University of California researcher Jen Bowles, as studied opioid use in Philadelphia and says research in other cities supports the concept of safe injection sites, with cities recording a decrease in fatal overdoses without the anticipated spike in crime.
“There’s a tremendous fear will creating a space in which drug users can more safely consumer drugs. But that conflicts with the science that finds that not to be true,” says Bowles.
Is this a divisive idea? What is your opinion on the concept of regulated drug use? Share your thoughts with us. We loved to hear them.
You can read the full article here.
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