New York City is the first city in the U.S. to offer a radical approach to curbing drug overdoses by giving drug users a safe and clean environment to help their addictions.
Two new supervised injection sites are set to open Tuesday in East Harlem and Washington Heights, where trained staff will be on hand to offer clean needles, provide addiction treatment, and administer naloxone in case of overdoses, The New York Times reported. Drug users are expected to bring their own drugs.
The program, which will be run by two nonprofits and receive funding from the city, was first proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2018 as an alternative to punishing drug users. The new supervised sites could still face problems in a country where federal law makes it illegal to operate a location for the purpose of using illegal substances, the Times pointed out. And, in 2019, former President Donald Trump’s Justice Department successfully sued the city of Philadelphia to prevent it from opening its own injection facility.
Proponents of the new facilities say it will help curb deaths and public drug use. Last year, as the coronavirus pandemic raged through the U.S., overdose deaths rose to more than 100,000, an increase of nearly 30% from the previous year.
“For a lot of our street-homeless clients, the reason they’re out there is because they have serious addiction,” Scott Auwarter, assistant executive director of Bronxworks, a nonprofit that helps the homeless, told the Times. “For them to be in a facility, to be able to use safely, gives us a chance to engage them and maybe convince some of them to take a low-threshold bed someplace.”
Read the full story at The New York Times.