Supervised Injection Facilities: A Controversial Approach to Heroin Addiction

Hospital room

Countries all over the world have their own methods for reducing the number of overdose deaths and HIV infections from drug use. In the United States, heroin addiction has skyrocketed, as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that heroin-related overdose deaths have increase 286% nationwide between 2002 and 2013. Individuals are turning to heroin as a cheaper alternative to painkillers, making this a grave concern. U.S. News reports the controversial opening of supervised injection facilities by lawmakers, something that is said to help those addicted to heroin “shoot up more safely”.

The American Medical Association (AMA) states that “these rooms will be staffed by medical personnel who monitor drug users, lead to fewer overdose deaths, less transmission of infectious disease and promote treatment”. The center does not provide drugs and will not admit someone into the center if they are already under the influence of drugs.

The Harm Reduction Coalition partnered with public health experts to understand the implications of these facilities that have already been implemented in places like Frankfurt, Germany; Sydney, Australia; and Vancouver, Canada. The following are benefits they propose come out of supervised injection facilities (SIF):

  • People who are addicted and use these facilities take better care of themselves, reduce or eliminate their needle sharing, use their drugs more safely, and ultimately reduce their drug use
  • SIF participants gain access to other medical and social services as well as entry into drug treatment programs
  • There has been not one overdose death in any of these programs over many years
  • SIFs do not increase drug use in the areas surrounding them, and they do not encourage young people to initiate drug use
  • Crime and public nuisance decreases in the areas surrounding these programs

Many people are concerned and upset regarding the potential of these sites in the United States, however. One concern is that the facilities will simply allow addicts to continue using drugs with no consequence, and another concern is that it will encourage younger people to use by showing them a safe place to use drugs. While there is much debate, lawmakers are looking at this as a possible solution to resolving some of the negative implications drug use has had on America.

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