Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine started up a Heroin Task Force earlier this year in order to take on the ever-growing heroin epidemic sweeping across Washington State, and they recently endorsed creating a safe-consumption site for heroin addicts. No such space exists for drug addicts in the United States, but the idea behind it is to provide them a place for heroin use in a safe space, rather than in a back alley or public restroom. They would have access to clean needles and, if necessary, anti-overdose medications and medical treatment, as well as various opportunities to seek treatment for their addictions.
While this type of space wouldn’t directly affect the issue of homelessness, officials hope that it could begin to help give people suffering from addiction a safe space for heroin use, and create an alternative to using drugs in homeless encampments like The Jungle. While this idea is fairly new when dealing with drug addictions, a similar initiative has proven successful when dealing with alcoholics. According to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2009, 1811 Eastlake Avenue, a facility that allows chronic alcoholics to drink in safety and seek treatment if they so choose, saved taxpayers $4 million every year.
Public Defender Association (PDA) staff attorney and Heroin Task Force member Patricia Sully spoke to the Seattle Times about 1811 Eastlake and how it related to their proposed site for heroin addicts:
“1811 Eastlake has shown great results, and there is every reason to believe that a similar model for people who use drugs would show equally impressive results.”
The task force is expected to release a formal recommendation that would outline how this type of site would operate, as well as any legal roadblocks that may come up some time next month.
If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, you don’t need to wait to seek treatment. Our treatment methods at Schick Shadel Hospital have been refined over the past 80 years, and our counter conditioning program has helped more than 80,000 patients overcome their addictions. Call us at (800) 272-8464, or send us a confidential message to begin your journey to recovery.