How are people responding?
The Inquirer has recently reported the country’s first supervised-injection site will be opening next week in Philadelphia. The site’s operators announced the big news on Tuesday after “a federal judge entered a final ruling that the proposed facility would not violate federal law.” While some are in support of the injection site, others are in opposition.
What are injection sites and why are they opening in the U.S.?
A supervised-injection site is “a space where those using IV drugs can inject under the supervision of a clinician who is ready to intervene in the event of an overdose” [Source: University of Southern California Department of Nursing]. Rather than have individuals who are addicted to intravenous drugs use them in public places like restrooms, parks, the street, etc., they can instead go to an injection site where they are not in the public eye and will be under clinical supervision in the event they need medical help. As much as individuals may be opposed to supervised-injection sites, the reality is, there are hundreds of thousands of individuals who are hooked on drugs and using them publicly.
USC’s Department of Nursing says that “the health risks of IV drugs are extreme.” It is estimated that “130 people die from an overdose every day in the United States” and the “lifetime risk of dying from an opioid overdose is greater than that of a car collision.” Unfortunately, the government is having difficulty containing the opioid epidemic that is responsible for killing more than 400,000 people since 2010, cites the USC Department of Nursing. Other countries have already acknowledged the issue which is why they have “decided to give people misusing intravenous drugs ownership over at least one aspect of their addiction: location.”
Now, the U.S. is finally stepping aboard with other countries and is allowing the first supervised-injection site to open in South Philadelphia.
Where will the supervised-injection site be located?
The news source says that sources familiar with the decision confirmed that the site would be operating out of the Constitution Health Plaza, located at 1930 S. Broad Street, just steps away from Passyunk Avenue. The site would provide a separate entrance for those seeking to use the facility. The nonprofit organization behind the site, Safehouse, says they also plan to open a second site in Philadelphia after the first site’s opening. The opening of the site comes after “a two-year battle” with lawmakers, although U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain has stated that he intends to appeal U.S. District Judge Gerald A. McHugh’s ruling, says The Inquirer.
McSwain, who clearly is in opposition of the injection site as he believes it will “ promote drug use and lead to a rise in crime in the surrounding area,” has also “threatened to use all enforcement tools at his disposal, including arrests, drug seizures, and criminal forfeitures, to stop any site that opens before the appeals process is complete.” While McSwain has encouraged Safehouse to hold off on opening while the appeal is pending, Safehouse organizers are ready to open the facility’s doors so that those with an addiction have a place they can go where medical help is available.
The source cited that the “overdose crisis has killed nearly 3,500 Philadelphians in the last three years,” which is why Safehouse is prepared to open despite McSwain’s threats.