The opioid epidemic doesn’t just include a large number of people addicted to these drugs but also the high number of overdose deaths because of it.
In the United States, over 67,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2018 and 70% of these overdoses involved opioids.1 People who start abusing painkillers are becoming addicted to them. Instead of getting opioid addiction treatment to stop, they are injecting stronger and more powerful drugs like fentanyl and heroin that have a higher risk of overdose.
This trend is happening across the United States; Massachusetts is no exception. Around 88% of the drug overdose deaths in the state in 2018 involved opioids for a total of 1,991 deaths.2 Some people believe the safe injection sites in Massachusetts could be a part of the solution to lowering these numbers.
What Is a Safe Injection Site?A safe injection site, also called a supervised injection site, is a facility where intravenous drug users can go to safely inject drugs under the supervision of a medical professional. Often, safe injection sites will provide other addiction resources as well like sterile needles, overdose education, referrals to addiction programs, and Narcan, a drug used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose.
These harm reduction programs are designed to decrease the number of drug overdoses as well as to minimize the dangers associated with I.V. drug use. Research on these facilities suggests that they are effective too. Safe injection sites have been shown to reduce overdoses, decrease outdoor drug use, and showed no negative impact on crime in the area.3 Supervised injection sites in Massachusetts could be what the Bay State needs to decrease their overdose numbers, but this new bill is only the first step in a long and uncertain journey.
The Next Steps for Massachusetts Safe Injection SitesWhile the bill has passed its first round of approval, it still has a long way to go before it becomes law and any supervised injection sites open in Massachusetts. The bill will need to be passed by the state’s legislative branch as well as get through Governor Charlie Baker, who has spoken out against such facilities.4 Even if the bills is passed, unexpected circumstances could get in the way. Pennsylvania has been trying to open the country’s first facility, but plans for the Philadelphia safe injection site faced community opposition in February of this year that may end this project indefinitely. Massachusetts could face similar problems if plans move forward. For now, the United States still does not have any safe injection sites even though several states have expressed interest in moving forward with such programs.
As an opioid and heroin rehab in Massachusetts, we understand that quitting isn’t easy, but it could save your life in more ways than one. If you or someone you care about has a drug problem, do not wait to get help any longer.
At Banyan Massachusetts, we have the resources to help people get and stay sober. To get more details or to learn more about your options, call us today at 888-280-4763.