US New York City opens first U.S. sites for supervised narcotics injection

00:00  01 december  2021
00:00  01 december  2021 Source:   reuters.com

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Two supervised injection sites could be open as soon as Tuesday in Manhattan to combat a sharp increase in overdose deaths in New York City . The two safe injection sites , one opening in East Harlem and the other in Washington Heights, will offer clean needles to drug users, administer naloxone Other cities such as Philadelphia, Boston and Seattle have taken initial steps to open their own injection sites , but have not managed to open the locations and they face continuing debate and scrutiny. More than 93,000 people died from drug overdoses in the US last year, a record number and

New York City will become the first U . S . city to open officially authorized injection sites in an effort to reduce drug overdose deaths. Supervised drug injection sites have been heralded as an effective alternative to criminalization , keeping people safe if they are using and steering them towards addiction services. While injection sites have popped up in Canada and Europe, efforts to open them in the U . S . have been slow-going, attracting fierce debates and legal challenges (for instance, the Department of Justice under Donald Trump sued to stop one such facility from opening in Philadelphia in 2019).

By Maria Caspani

Supervised injection site in the Washington Heights section of New York © Reuters/DAVID DEE DELGADO Supervised injection site in the Washington Heights section of New York

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The first sites in the United States that allow narcotics users to inject drugs under the supervision of trained staff opened in New York City on Tuesday, a move aimed at stemming a surge in overdose deaths.

The city's health department said two sites, both located in Upper Manhattan, may begin operations as of Tuesday. They are run by two existing Syringe Service Providers, organizations that offer a range of services including access and disposal of injection equipment.

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The city will not operate the sites ; nonprofit groups New York Harm Reduction Educators and the Washington Heights Corner Project, which have merged as OnPoint NYC , will staff the facilities. “After a devastating year of record overdose deaths, our city ’ s life-saving action will reverberate In 2019, the US Department of Justice under then-president Donald Trump sued the city of Philadelphia to block the opening of a supervised injection site . President Joe Biden’ s administration has not explicitly endorsed such facilities as part of its harm reduction platform. Dr Chokshi told The New York Times

Also called safer injection sites , drug consumption rooms, and supervised injecting centers, SIFs are designed to reduce the health and public order issues often associated with public injection by providing a space for people to inject pre-obtained drugs in a hygienic environment with access to In New York City , people who use drugs and their allies are standing up and demanding change. It’ s time to set aside our antiquated attitudes about drugs and the people who use them and embrace an intervention that we know works. If last month’ s forum is any indication, the time for the first

Supervised injection site in the Washington Heights section of New York © Reuters/DAVID DEE DELGADO Supervised injection site in the Washington Heights section of New York

"Overdose Prevention Centers are a safe and effective way to address the opioid crisis," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in the statement. "I'm proud to show cities in this country that after decades of failure, a smarter approach is possible."

Citing research, proponents say the sites provide clean, safe places that save lives and can help curb addiction.

"This is a watershed milestone in the fight to end overdose deaths in New York," Melissa Moore, director of civil systems reform at Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), said in a statement. "If we want to save lives, reduce criminalization, and curb racial disparities, we need comprehensive, innovative, and forward-thinking approaches like Overdose Prevention Centers."

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How Could New York City Implement Supervised Injection Facilities? The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) and DOHMH conducted structured focus groups and individual interviews regarding perspectives on supervised injection services with key community and institutional stakeholders. Participants represented a range of constituencies: law enforcement, health care, social and community services, faith traditions, business development, and harm reduction.

The first site for supervised drug injection in North America opened in Vancouver. Since November 2017, it has provided nurse supervision for 3.6 million injections and intervened in thousands of overdoses.3. New York , San Francisco, Denver, and Ithaca have considered opening supervised In New York City , however, Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed a plan in May 2018 to open four safe injection centers, according to Clinical Pain Advisor. The plan would require State Health Department approval, while the mayor also noted obstacles such as quality-of-life concerns and legal factors.5.

Discarded syringes are seen at an MTA subway station train tracks in the Washington Heights section of New York © Reuters/DAVID DEE DELGADO Discarded syringes are seen at an MTA subway station train tracks in the Washington Heights section of New York

Opponents of the sites say they threaten communities in which they are located by facilitating drug use.

De Blasio, who leaves office in January after two terms as mayor, has long supported the opening of such sites, following an innovation that Canada and other countries implemented years ago. Incoming mayor Eric Adams voiced support for the concept during his campaign.

In addition to allowing users to inject narcotics under supervision, the sites are to provide users with syringes and other supplies, as well as medications to reverse overdoses and treatment options.

Last year, overdose deaths in New York City jumped to more than 2,000, the highest number since tracking began in 2000. Nearly 600 people died in the first quarter of 2021, according to preliminary city data, the most in a single quarter.

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New York City plans to create safe zones where drug users can get clean needles and be supervised while using. Bill de Blasio, mayor of the 8.6 million person metropolis, announced the creation of the so-called “overdose prevention centers” in a tweet on May 3, saying they will also offer addiction advice Cities that have proposed such programs haven’t yet cleared all the legal hurdles required to open safe sites . This New York City plan calls for a test of about four safe injection locations over six months to a year. De Blasio can’t create the clinics entirely on his authority; he will require the blessing of legal

The opening of a supervised injection site became a defining political issue. MacPherson says it wasn’t just a Downtown Eastside problem anymore. Families from all over were suffering from the loss of loved ones . Mothers from other neighborhoods got involved. Activists with the Portland Hotel Society even built a supervised injection site , modeled off a hair salon, on East Hastings street and challenged the city to run it. In 2003,Vancouver moved forward and opened Insite as a pilot with federal health funding. Fok, the nearby business leader, says what came after Insite opened was

Across the country, the opioid epidemic - which worsened since the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States in early 2020 - has ravaged the lives of millions. More Americans than ever - more than 100,000 - died from overdoses over a recent 12-month period, federal data released earlier this month showed.

The supply of illicit drugs on the streets has become deadlier, mostly due to widespread availability of fentanyl, which is increasingly mixed with other drugs.

Drug consumption services currently operate in 10 countries around the world, according to DPA. Other U.S. cities including San Francisco have plans to open safe injection sites, but none have opened yet.

Legal barriers at the federal and state level have hindered efforts to establish supervised consumption services.

Earlier this year, a coalition of mayors sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland seeking clarity on the position of the Department of Justice on a section of the U.S. Controlled Substances Act that says it is illegal to maintain any place for the use of controlled substances.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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This is interesting!