First Supervised Injection Sites Set To Open
San Francisco has always had a reputation as a progressive city. Whether it’s tech development in nearby Silicon Valley, or new groundbreaking laws that more conservative regions are slower to embrace; they do seem to push the envelope more than most. And this week, local officials announced a huge leap they’re making in the realm of addiction. Starting this summer, SF will be America’s first city to open supervised injection sites for people suffering from dependencies.
Ultimately, there will be two sites within the city designated for (and endorsing) safe injections. Per the mayor’s press release, this will serve an estimated 22,000 people who suffer from intravenous drug addictions. And though to many this may seem controversial, San Francisco’s local Health Commission approved the measure by a unanimous vote.
“I understand the misgivings around it and some of the rhetoric from people who don’t support it,” city mayor Mark Farrell told the press. “But we absolutely need to give it a try.”
Though this is groundbreaking for the United States, many nations around the world have already pushed the movement forward. In total, there are 120 similar facilities operating across the globe; in countries like Canada, Australia, Switzerland and Spain. And for all intents and purposes, the SF version will operate exactly the same as the others. As Drug Policy Alliance director Laura Thomas put it, “You show up, you check in, you use your drugs, you hang out for a while, interact with the staff and then go on your way.”
We happen to support the cause as well, particularly because of the additional dangers that can occur when people use dirty needles. Diseases like HIV and Hepatitis can easily spread when people shoot up together. Programs like these aim to eliminate that threat, while also working as a support system; educating users about the benefits of recovery.
And though many believe it’s backwards thinking, statistics have shown that facilities like this can actually lessen drug use across a city. Recovery advocate and registered nurse Mandy Sladky explained the argument to TheFix.com. She also happens to run her own safe injection support group.
“These types of facilities connect people to services, which gives them access to treatment, so it actually lessens drug use,” Sladky explained to the site. “It certainly lessens outdoor public use—and therefore discarding syringes in places like alleyways and parks. And crime does not increase in the areas.”
We will certainly be following this story and the results of this important step forward once the sites open in early July.