If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, the state of Colorado has your back. In the latest 2019 legislative session in May, lawmakers passed six key bills to further the fight against the nation’s opioid epidemic.
These bills included getting the Department of Corrections to offer medication-assisted treatment to inmates, making Naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, readily available in schools, increasing the number of treatment locations in rural Colorado and much more.
While all this will help the state make significant strides against opioid addiction, there’s one issue lawmakers haven’t talked about that they may start to discuss later this year: Safe injection sites.
Safe injection sites have existed for years in other countries, but they are just now entering the conversation in dozens of U.S. cities and states like California. So, what are safe injection sites and how do they work? Would they be able to help combat drug abuse in Colorado and across the country?
This article will explore these questions and examine what the research on safe injection sites has shown so far.
What is a Safe Injection Site?
Also commonly known as supervised consumption services (SCS), overdose prevention centers and supervised injection facilities (SIFs), safe injection sites give individuals a legally-sanctioned place to consume drugs under the supervision of trained staff.
In hundreds of safe injection sites in Europe, Canada and Australia, people struggling with addiction are provided a safe space and clean needles to consume drugs. Staff members supervise the entire time, have Naloxone on hand in case of overdose and share information about addiction treatment available to try to persuade those struggling to get help.
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Arguments For and Against Safe Injection Sites
Let’s start with the criticisms of safe injection sites. For starters, it certainly seems counterintuitive to give someone struggling with addiction the green light to continue abusing drugs. Loved ones are constantly told not to enable the addiction, and critics would say that’s exactly what safe injection sites do.
Another criticism is that since these facilities encourage drug use, they also encourage and increase crime in local communities where these facilities exist.
On the other hand, research on safe injection sites suggests the exact opposite results. A review of 75 studies about safe injection sites in Canada and Australia found that these facilities increased access to primary health care and reduced overdose frequency. These studies also found that safe injection sites didn’t increase drug injection, had no effect on crime in the surrounding areas and didn’t cause any deaths due to drug overdose.
Proponents of safe injection sites also argue that once you get people in the door and give them a safe place to use, you have a greater chance of talking to them about addiction treatment and getting them the help they need to get sober.
So, Do Safe Injection Sites Work?
While current research suggests that safe injection sites can aid the fight against drug addiction, it isn’t clear how many people who have used safe injection sites actually go on to get addiction treatment.
However, it’s possible these types of facilities may have the potential to be another tool to help get people into addiction treatment centers. Addiction treatment centers like The Raleigh House in Denver, Colorado can take the next step and provide the evidence-based treatment people need to recover from addiction and develop the coping skills needed to prevent relapse and manage any mental health issues that influenced the drug abuse in the first place.
Find Relief and Healing from Addiction at The Raleigh House
At The Raleigh House, we know how devastating addiction is. We also know the shame, guilt and stigma that you feel because of your drug abuse. That’s why we offer judgment-free addiction and dual diagnosis treatment at our wellness lodge called The Ranch, just outside the city of Denver.
This is a place where you don’t have to worry about being judged or feel bad about your addiction. We offer a safe environment for you to detox and work through the causes and triggers of your addiction, so you can regain a healthy and happy life without drugs or alcohol.