According to a statement made by officials on Tuesday, Philadelphia is looking to be the very first city in the U.S. to permit and use supervised sites for drug injection to help fight the battle against the epidemic of opioids. They want to set up operators in the city for implementation of this plan.
Supervised drug injections sites are areas on the body where someone can do a fix while in the presence of a nurse or doctor, who are fully capable of providing immediate medical attention if necessary. However, arguments have been made that this supervised drug injection not only undermines the efforts of prevention and treatment, but does the opposite of the laws which are in placd to stop people from using illicit, lethal drugs.
But not everyone agrees with that disputation. Dr. Thomas Farley, the Public Health Commissioner, has said that the drug injection sites could be a strategy which saves lives and perhaps even brings the users towards treatment. He added that no one supports or condones the use of these drugs – they are just attempting to help those with addictions.
In 2017, over 1,200 people died from an overdose in Philadelphia. This number is one third higher than the drug-related deaths from 2016, and stands to show why Philadelphia holds the highest rate of death from opioids out of any other large city in the U.S.
While the concept of having what is being called a “comprehensive user engagement site” is not a new one, no city in the U.S. has stablished one as of yet despite Seattle setting aside $1.3 million for that purpose. These sites have already been put up in Europe and Canada.
Philadelphia officials visited some of the sites in Vancouver where they found that death from overdosing as well as the spreading of diseases like hepatitis C and HIV were reduced.
Despite President Donald Trump’s declaration of the opioid crisis being a public health emergency, the U.S. Department of Justice refused to comment on the plan of Philadelphia opening their own site.
Richard Ross, the Philadelphia Police Commissioner, admitted to being originally against the idea of the injection sites, but then added that he recently became more open-minded to it if lives can be saved. He is still uncertain on many of the details, but feels he can’t just pass off the ongoing problem to someone else.