Safe injection sites – what a concept! The city of Philadelphia is not only proposing a medically supervised facility for heroin addicts to shoot-up, but it may be the first U.S. city to use this controversial approach. Their approach is different. The city will be only a “facilitator between the public and privately run facilities,” cites Fox News writer Talia Kirkland, whereby skirting the legal aspects and bureaucratic (legal) landmines. Although, critics claim this may unleash “an irresponsible cattle call for investors.”
The City of Brotherly Love wants to curtail overdose deaths by offering sterile needles and Naloxone (the anti-dose serum), as well as wound care, referrals to treatment centers, and social services. What a concept, huh? The project is aimed at the homeless encampments where city officials say persons on (drug) binges openly do drugs and have sex. Herein lies some basic criticism of the project.
First, the safe environment appears to “make shooting up legal” says a professor of law, because there will be no prosecution. However, maybe Philadelphia is smarter than most cities by not wasting its police manpower and funds to prosecute these individuals, yet the health crisis that occurs with these encampment environments is rampant. Officials say this issue will increase by allowing injection sites, despite the prospect of treatment centers. Why get treatment and stop addiction if an addict knows they will not overdose, because the anti-serum is on hand at these safe sites?
Consider this approach in Los Angeles that has the largest homeless population in the nation approaching 60,000 (42,828 homeless, 14,966 in shelters). Staggering. However, there is no perfect answer, and for every idea there is always a contra-idea. Principle of Yin and Yang?
At least it is a start and may catch fire. Europe has success, but with a smaller population.
Thomas Farley, Health Commissioner for Philadelphia says, “It’s time for us to rethink our assumptions, and consider an option we haven’t seen before.”
By Sharla Esparza