There is no denying that the world slowed down a bit once the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Quarantining and closures led to the halting of many programs that had previously been gaining momentum. One such initiative involved publicly safe injection sites, where addicted heroin users could shoot up in a clean environment. Well, interestingly enough, the cause has been re-ignited thanks to mainstream coverage from outlets like The Associated Press.
The AP recently published an article that still praised the concept and described how it could continue during an era of social distancing. Citing research from The New England Journal of Medicine, AP writer Marilynn Marchione outlined a major success story coming out of an undisclosed center in the eastern part of the United States.
Over the past five years, this site has observed more that 10,000 safe injections and treated 33 overdoses, which could have potentially been fatal. And that, in itself, is the concept behind the movement. If people are planning to get high anyway, why not do it in a clean environment with support staff on hand in case a medical emergency occurs?
Proponents’ biggest argument is that these locations can literally save lives. They can also slow down the spread of intravenous diseases (such as HIV and Hepatitis C) and, ideally, get people into treatment; thanks to recovery counselors also being available on site.
The movement has gained major support in other regions, such as Canada and Europe. But America has been slow to expand the program; mostly because some think it promotes drug use. We, for one, do not agree with that argument, but it is one that many legislators stand behind.
The additional complication comes with COVID-19 and the ability to run a safe injection site alongside quarantines and coronavirus risks. Well, the AP article addresses that as well.
Just like restaurants and shopping malls have made adjustments for “the new normal,” these sites can do so too. As Marchione explained in her article, the latest design set up includes two rooms with stainless steel stations separated by glass. Each are socially distant and cleaning agents are thoroughly used immediately after a guest leaves. Users, of course, supply their own drugs.
So yes, safe injection sites can successfully exist in an era of the coronavirus. The only real stumbling block is the approvals they need to move forward; which lie in the hands of local state lawmakers.