Could Safe Injection Sites be Beneficial in the United States?

Hospital room

Over 100 supervised injection facilities have been used in other countries such as Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and more, and they have proven to be beneficial both for individuals and their communities at large. According to, these sites “provide sterile injection equipment, information about reducing the harms of drugs, health care, treatment referrals, and access to medical staff. Some offer counseling, hygienic amenities, and other services.” Several states are considering opening these as well.

The United States has picked up on the benefits of having such facilities, and according to a 2017 study titled, “Addressing the Nation’s Opioid Epidemic: Lessons from an Unsanctioned Supervised Injection Site in the U.S.”, this unsanctioned injection site has been tested in an undisclosed U.S. location for nearly 3 years now. The study states there is one large room for injection, and another adjoining room for post-injection monitoring. The site is open 4-6 hours a day, 5 days per week. With this “test” site, it has been by invitation only to avoid long lines. During the first 2 years of operation, there were 2,574 injections by over 100 participants. Before they can inject, the staff asks them 12 questions to complete a questionnaire. Results from the survey have shown researchers and government officials the following benefits of having a supervised injection site:

  • Supervision of medical staff ensures that overdoses are responded to immediately
  • Real-time education on safer injection practice is available, meaning many people are less likely to experience soft tissue infection and other injection-related injuries
  • Injecting in a clean, safe environment without having to rush means people are less likely to injure themselves
  • Safe disposal of injection needles in a medical facility can occur rather than disposing of needles in a public place such as a restroom, parking lot or park
  • Constructive discussions on how to counteract negative consequences of drug use and open conversations on substance abuse treatment programs are more easily held

Vice Magazine claims that these supervised injection sites do encourage recovery because a person with an addiction can come into a facility where people care about them and they don’t have to rush – giving them more time to think and more opportunities to learn about safety and substance abuse programs. This could be a potentially good endeavor to help reduce the number of deaths, overdoses, injuries and overall number of people without a proper support system.

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