Modeled after similar programs in Europe, Australia and Canada, Seattle is on track to become the first city in the United States where heroin addicts can legally shoot up at a supervised healthcare facility. The controversial program is intended to reduce the number of overdose deaths by bringing users out of the alleys and into “safe places” where overdoses can be treated immediately, all at taxpayer expense, of course. This new concept goes one step beyond needle exchange programs that exist in other cities intended to decrease the spread of disease through dirty needles.
The goal of the program, as Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse points out, is to reduce the occurrence of ancillary diseases such as HIV that result from heroin use and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to treat. Per The Washington Examiner:
Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, said not taking action to reduce the spread of those diseases would be irresponsible from a public health perspective. Cutting even one HIV infection would save $379,668 in lifetime costs, according to NIDA data.
King County spends $1.2 million annually on its needle exchange program, allowing the program to essentially pay for itself if three infections are prevented per year. Cutting infections by 1 percent in King County would save more than $70 million in HIV-related medical costs, the county’s website states.
As CNN noted, “safe injection centers” have been around in Vancouver since at least 2013. But, despite claims they save hundreds of lives each year, actual data from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General would suggest that drug overdose deaths have skyrocketed since that time…unpossible.
Of course, such programs are not without their critics as one Washington State Senator says “toleration is not compassionate, it is a signal of defeat.”
Republican state Sen. Mark Miloscia proposed a bill to ban secure injection zones in Washington, and the bill is sitting in committee in the Senate.
“Toleration is not compassionate, it is a signal of defeat. We cannot give up on drug users. In the end, these sites will only distract us from getting resources into real, medically proven treatment options,” Miloscia said.
John P. Walters, director of drug control policy in George W. Bush’s administration, agreed the only safe approach to heroin is not to take it.
“Supporting addicts’ heroin use maintains their disease, administering the poison that causes their illness and diminishes their lives. A government-approved place for unlimited heroin injection creates the conditions for never-ending addiction and gives government a drug dealer’s power over the addicted,” Walters wrote in an op-ed. “We do not protect addicts by reviving them from overdose death only to return them to death’s front door, perpetuating the self-destructive cycle of addiction.”
Meanwhile, to our complete lack of surprise, the progressive, snowflake haven of San Francisco is also in the midst of implementing their own “safe injection facilities” (SIFs) which they estimate could save taxpayers millions.
Supervised injection facilities (SIFs) have been shown to reduce infection, prevent overdose deaths, and increase treatment uptake. The United States is in the midst of an opioid epidemic, yet no sanctioned SIF currently operates in the United States. We estimate the economic costs and benefits of establishing a potential SIF in San Francisco using mathematical models that combine local public health data with previous research on the effects of existing SIFs. We consider potential savings from five outcomes: averted HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, reduced skin and soft tissue infection (SSTI), averted overdose deaths, and increased medication-assisted treatment (MAT) uptake. We find that each dollar spent on a SIF would generate US$2.33 in savings, for total annual net savings of US$3.5 million for a single 13-booth SIF. Our analysis suggests that a SIF in San Francisco would not only be a cost-effective intervention but also a significant boost to the public health system.
So all this time the cure for drug abuse was just offering up more drugs…if only such progressive thought prevailed in the 80’s we could have avoided so many deaths in the “war on drugs” and simultaneously enriched drug dealers even more…could have been a win-win really.