Do safe injection sites enable addiction? | The Tylt
Do safe injection sites enable addiction?
San Francisco is planning to open two safe injection sites where addicts can do drugs under medical supervision. The sites would be the first of their kind in the country, and many other cities—including Seattle, Baltimore, and Philadelphia—may soon following suit.
Supporters of safe injection sites argue they embody the idea of harm reduction. It is extremely difficult to get people fully clean—many rehab programs have shockingly low recovery rates hovering around 3 percent—but safe injection sites aim to minimize the number of people who die or cause themselves irreparable harm from drug use.
Safe injection sites work by giving addicts a space to prepare and use their drugs. These sites often provide needle exchanges in order to stop the spread of diseases like HIV/AIDS. Medical personnel are on hand in case people overdose, and when people are ready for treatment, staff are prepared to direct drug abusers towards treatment programs and services which can help them get clean.
A zero tolerance approach towards drugs doesn't work. More people are dying from overdoses than ever. At the height of the opioid epidemic, safe injection sites face the reality of drug use and propose real actionable solutions to save lives.
But others think it is morally wrong to enable drug addiction in any form. Drug addiction is fundamentally harmful to an individual's health. Acting as if drug addiction is something that should be tolerated means we as a society are tolerating an individual's self-destruction.
In an ideal world, where taxpayers are willing to put up as much money as possible to help addicts, safe injection sites could work. But with only so much money to go around, some think resources should be put toward programs that lead to recovery, not enabling the status quo.
Very few people are able to fully kick their heroin habit, but those who choose to do so should be given every chance possible to make that happen. That means investing in rehab programs with beds and counselors, instead of haphazard programs that enable people to continue using drugs. The government should not be in the enabling business.
As Bruce Pelletier, a former addict, puts it:
The last thing anyone, including me, looked for when using, was a safe place to shoot up. Supervisor Campos should invest the time and money of San Francisco taxpayers toward rehabilitation centers with beds, counselors, education and support systems. Telling drug addicts it’s all right to use drugs benefits only prisons and funeral homes.