toll free: 844.955.3042
local tel: 561.464.6505
fax: 561.450.6637

RECO Intensive
140 NE 4th Avenue
Delray Beach, FL 33483

First Safe Injection Sites Break Ground In New York City

With American overdose deaths the highest that they have ever been, the need for harm reduction techniques that can help struggling substance abusers who are not yet ready to stop using drugs altogether is more apparent than ever. So it represents a ground-breaking change in American attitudes that one of the most controversial yet most potentially life-saving of these measures, supervised injection sites, are being embraced for the first time in our nation with the opening of two such sites in New York City. 

These sites, which are located in the NYC neighborhoods East Harlem and Washington Heights, provide drug users with clean needles and with a safe place that they can inject drugs, where trained medical staff is on hand to assist in the case of an overdose. With over 2,000 overdose deaths having been recorded in New York City in 2020 and 600 in the first three months of 2021, the rationale for the placement of these facilities is self-evident as well. 

Though the idea of providing addicts with safer ways to use drugs may seem counterintuitive when one’s ultimate goal is to curtail substance abuse, as has been posited by many who fear that supervised injection sites will encourage drug use, the research sends a clear message about their efficacy.

Every country that has implemented supervised injection sites has seen a reduction in their rates of overdose deaths, especially in the areas closest to the sites in question. Additionally, no overdose death has ever been reported at one of these facilities, though over 90 of them operate worldwide and millions of injections have taken place there. 

Staff at the sites also provide the drug users those who utilize them with information and resources about obtaining treatment, and four different studies suggest that the sites indeed increase a drug user’s chance of going to treatment. 

Studies also suggest that supervised injection sites lead to less discarded needles on the street and less drug use in other public places. The sites are run by two nonprofits funded by the city, which are merging to form a new group called OnPoint NYC, and were previously operating as syringe exchange sites. On only their first day in operation, staff reduced two overdoses and provided over 70 people with the opportunity to inject safely. 

However, despite this clear positive impact, the site may still technically be illegal under federal law, since one cannot “operate, own, or rent” a location that has as its purpose the use of illegal substances, as was made apparent when a supervised injection facility was stopped from opening in Philadelphia by the federal justice department in 2019. 

But, at least for now, the Biden administration’s changing attitude towards harm reduction and the obvious urgency of the overdose crisis has led officials to believe the sites will likely be allowed to continue to operate. 

Other cities that are considering opening supervised injection sites of their own include Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Seattle, but the continued debate over the issue makes the matter fraught. 

Perhaps opponents of supervised injection sites should think of them not as “allowing” an addict to use drugs but “allowing” that addict to survive, and therefore preserving the possibility that they will be able to obtain treatment. After all, if someone were not willing to die for their addiction, they probably would not be using intravenous drugs at all, and suggesting that the right to life should be denied to people who are struggling with this complex mental health issue is downright inhumane.

Of course, though measures like safe injection sites can make drug use less lethal, the safest option will always be to not use drugs at all. If you or someone you love is currently struggling with substance abuse, feel free to call Reco Intensive at (561) 464-6533 to learn more about how our top-notch comprehensive treatment program can get you or your loved one back on the path to a brighter future. 





Recent Articles

Discover a better life and call our recovery helpline today.