More than 100,000 Americans were killed by drug overdoses last year. Opioids were responsible for the overwhelming majority of these overdoses.
Experts cite heroin and fentanyl as the most dangerous drugs. The majority of users will eventually inject these drugs. This could cause death due to the different dosages and additives used by addicts to enhance their high.
New York City has launched a pilot program in an effort to reduce overdose deaths. The city has approved “safe injection sites”, which have been in place for many years in Europe, Canada, and Australia. The site allows drug addicts to bring their own drugs and is equipped with clean needles as well as a safe place to inject. Professionals monitor them for signs of overdose.
Although there are some indications that safe injection sites can save lives, what moral cost does a large city incur by allowing illegal behavior to continue?
Then there is the question of whether these sites actually work in saving people from overdoses.
Although there is limited evidence to support this, it does seem that overdoses can be reduced around safe injection sites. But, what impact does it have?
Addicts are known for refusing to accept any assistance. How many addicts will take advantage of safe injection sites to get high, even in the middle of an epidemic of overdose? Many addicts do not live on the streets and have access to safe places to inject their drugs. The sites may not be available to everyone, but they might be of most benefit to those who are most in need.
There are signs of an increase in crime around injection sites. This is because addicts often think about getting another drug when leaving these sites. Some communities, including the Seattle area, have tried to ban them.
New York City’s injection sites will be housed at needle exchange locations. It is part of a larger push by public health officials to “harm reduction” – a philosophy that, according to Harm Reduction International, “aim[s]] to minimize adverse health, social, and legal impacts associated drug use, policy and drug laws.”
It would be easy to reduce the negative health effects of illegal drug abuse: stop using illegal drugs. We shouldn’t be optimistic about the rest.
Everyone would love to be able to live with a drug addict or to work alongside someone as powerful as a kite. There is no problem.
There is a reason why drug addiction has a stigma: innocent people get hurt. A city that encourages drug use by providing a safe place for addicts to inject drugs may save some lives, but how many lives will it ruin?