How Safe Injection Sites in Denver Can Help in the Opioid Crisis
A new approach to the opioid crisis and the many heroin related drug overdoses has been proposed in Denver whereby heroin addicts will be able to use safe injection sites the next time they shoot up.
Such a drastic step in the fight against opioid abuse comes on the back of an increased number of overdoses, needles found in public places and the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS in Denver. In 2015, 160 people died from heroin overdose in Colorado. This number rose to 228 the following year, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
How Do Safe Injection Sites Work
There are over 100 supervised injection sites worldwide. So, how do safe injection sites work at these facilities? At these sites, there are several somewhat private booths with a mirror and chair. Trained staff members are nearby to ensure that when overdose is a possibility, they can administer naloxone – a drug that can treat opioid overdose – that can potentially safe the individual’s life.
The sites resemble a clinic, not a place where people come to party. The site also come equipped with hoses to clean vomit or blood and the staff provide sterile needles and even distilled water in some cases. The drugs such as heroin are not supplied.
Are Supervised Injection Sites Supporting Drug Abuse?
The reason many Denver officials are starting to get behind the idea of supervised injection sites is due to what is already happening on the streets of Denver.
Each morning, the center on Colfax Avenue collects around 3,500 syringes, or around 16,800 in a single week. Residents overdose every week in bathrooms at the library, alleys and public parks. Many of these deaths would have been prevented if there were trained staff on hand with naloxone.
In the cities around the world that have implemented these sites, safe injection sites statistics show a decrease in the number of overdose deaths, discarded syringes and overall reduced drug use.
Another aspect of these sites is the education and access to treatment that is made available to the people that use the facilities. Based on the safe injection sites statistics in established locations, the access to help for an addiction could be why there is a decrease in the number of drug abusers.
Normally, drug abuse occurs far away from anyone willing to help them beat their addiction. Emergency department physician and chair, Dr. Steve Sherick, said that as of right now, heroin and meth addicts are living on an hour-by-hour basis. With the introduction of safe injection sites, he believes it is a step toward a week-by-week way of living for addicts.
Currently, the staff members at the Denver Public Library have been taught how to use naloxone because of how frequently people overdose in the library bathrooms. It has become the city’s version of an unsanctioned supervised injection site, meaning it is already happening out of necessity but without the other benefits that a sanctioned site would provide.
As the opioid crisis continues to wreak havoc on communities around the country, cities such as Denver are trying to implement a way to deal with the end results of the epidemic. While the true causes of the drug crisis must still be dealt with, officials are trying to save lives today. In January 2018, the General Assembly will convene to decide on the issue.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.