Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick recently proposed the establishment of supervised heroin injection facilities, in which users can shoot up on government property under the supervision of licensed medical professionals. Myrick hopes that these facilities will serve as a safe place for users to inject themselves with clean needles and pre-purchased syringes. Nurses and physicians would ideally be available to inject naloxone (Narcan) as necessary in the event that a user overdoses.
Although Myrick's proposal is rather unconventional, he does make a few decent points. Simply put, drug users will continue to do illegal drugs no matter what the circumstance. He knows full well that opening injecting sites will not stop people from shooting up. His main concern is that the facilities would reduce the mortality rate associated with heroin overdose. Canada opened it's first government owned and operated injection site in Vancouver in 2003, and according to Brown University epidemiologist Brandon Marshall, the heroin overdose mortality rate has since dropped by 35 percent.
Myrick clearly states that while visiting the clinic, users would be directed towards the appropriate treatment and recovery programs. However, how many users will be willing to get the help they so need and deserve after being provided the perfect setting and opportunity to do exactly what caused their addiction in the first place?
Establishing medically supervised injection clinics is certainly not the solution to the overgrowing heroin epidemic. Heroin overdoses are completely reversible with the timely administration of Narcan. For this reason, if approved, these clinics would only reduce mortality rates for the users who actually visit. We are talking about an illegal substance here. Opening the perfect place for users to shoot up is an ill-advised attempt to control the epidemic.
What incentive does a user have to stop shooting up if they are provided with the perfect opportunity to continue doing so? Opening supervised heroin injection facilities is sending the wrong message to the community. There must be a better way out there to control the heroin epidemic that doesn't involve supplying addicts with all of the necessary supplies, and an environment free of legal consequences to continue supporting their addiction.