US: How the federal government is stepping in to study “safe consumption sites”

CBS News –

Even among advocates, you will find some who balk at the idea of a safe place to allow people to continue using drugs.

Recovery advocate Courtney Lovell says part of the problem is branding, saying,

“I hope that we can start moving toward language like overdose prevention site, because that’s really what these places are, they’re healthcare facilities set up to help individuals not die by overdose.”

For the first time, the CDC and National Institute on Drug Abuse will study what they call “Safe Consumption Sites,” but there is already research out there.

The closest legally sanctioned site is in Canada, but there are also underground sites, also monitored by healthcare staff, here in the states.

A New England Journal of Medicine study monitored one such location for five years from 2014 to 2019. There were more than 10,500 injections, 33 overdoses, but no deaths.

Lovell goes on to say,

“What we have failed to do for decades now is to help individuals who are actively using stay alive long enough to be healthy enough and secure enough to seek treatment.”

Lovell says there are also benefits to the community, as needles and other materials aren’t left in public places and there’s a lower risk of transmitting diseases.

So why not get people into other recovery programs? Lovell says that not everyone is ready for that step.

Sometimes, it’s just about keeping them alive, and these can do that.

Lovell says,

“I don’t think it should be an either or. We should help people get into treatment when they’re ready, willing, and able to accept that change.”

The CDC report is due in June.

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