While there are a lot of dangers to our physical health and safety these days, one of the most alarming has to be the epidemic of heroin overdoses that has swept the country over the last few years.
Even small, rural areas are seeing dramatic increases in drug use and overdose deaths and sickness related to heroin use and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to slow down any time soon.
The city of Philadelphia is now looking to tackle this problem, or at least one aspect of it, by becoming the first in the country to host safe injection sites for heroin users. To say this move is controversial is an understatement.
Fox News is reporting:
The city is seeking outside operators to establish at least one such site in the city, in a move met with both support and criticism.
Philadelphia has the highest opioid death rate of any large U.S. city. That mortality rate has been increasing, as more than 1,200 people fatally overdosed in Philadelphia in 2017 — one-third more than in 2016.
President Donald Trump declared the U.S. opioid crisis a public health emergency nearly three months ago.
In safe injection sites, people can shoot up under supervision of a doctor or nurse who can administer an overdose antidote if necessary.
The Philadelphia Inquirer called the city’s plan the “most radical step yet” against the opioid crisis.
Public Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley spoke with the Inquirer stating, “we are facing an epidemic of historic proportions.” He went on to say these proposed sites could end up saving lives.
Farley also commented on the concern many folks have about this measure sending the message that the use of illegal substances is perfectly acceptable and supported, stating that’s not the case. Instead, the doctor said he and others involved in this solution want these individuals to get help for their addiction.
No other U.S. city has opted to take this route, though Seattle has set aside $1.3 million to create a site there, though it isn’t operational as of this writing. Plenty of these safe injection sites exist in Canada and Europe.
Officials from the city of Philadelphia have visited sites in Vancouver where overdose deaths and the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C have been decreased due to these facilities.
Those involved with the project have concluded that safe injection sites could save 75-100 lives a year, not to mention millions in hospital costs and taxpayer money.