Supervised injection sites help fight the opioid crisis


VOCAL-NY (Voices Of Community Activists & Leaders) | Flickr

Stacy Kim

New York City is a forerunner of installing supervised injection sites to fight opioid overdoses. The two centers, which are operated by a nonprofit organization called OnPoint NYC, are located in East Harlem and Washington Heights.

“About 2,245 people died of overdoses in New York City, a figure 40% higher than the previous 12-month period,” between March 2020 and March 2021, according to Spectrum News.

While some critics voice their concerns that opening the centers will attract drug users and dealers to the neighborhoods, supervised injection sites will improve the health of the city by reducing the number of overdose deaths.

Similar projects have been done in Canada and Australia and turned out to be successful as the center provided drug users with public places that promote safer injection practices.

“Giving people a safe, supportive space will save lives and bring people in from the streets, improving life for everyone involved. Overdose prevention centers are a key part of broader harm reduction,” New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said.

In 2018, when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced to pilot safe drug use sites that will provide treatment counseling and many other social services, former President Donald Trump’s administration brought legal action against such sites.

A Philadelphia nonprofit was even sued by the U.S. Justice Department under the “crack house statute,” a law written by then-Sen. Joe Biden makes it a felony to provide a location for drug use.

Although Biden has blamed himself for authoring the legislation, his administration has not “responded to a request for comment on whether it will seek legal action against the New York City safe use sites,” NY1 reported.

Among many of those who oppose the opening of the centers are some conservative politicians like Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland in an attempt to prevent the sites from opening.

Despite conservative criticism of the centers, the National Institutes of Health released a report, saying that overdose prevention sites will be economically advantageous.

“Given the amount and quality of the existing data, it may be prudent to consider the American Association’s recommendation of developing and implementing OPC pilot programs in the United States,” the report said, “designed, monitored, and evaluated to generate locality-relevant data to inform policymakers on the feasibility and effectiveness of OPCs in reducing harms and health care costs related to IDU (injection drug use),” the report continued.

The Opioid overdose crisis is a long-standing issue in the United States that needs to be tackled with support from the state and federal government and communities everywhere. The two centers in New York City, with their smart approach, will prove the importance of establishing the centers to treat addiction.