Featured News - Current News - Archived News - News Categories

Safe house for drug use: helpful or enabling?

by George Boria - Copy Editor
Mon, Mar 6th 2017 09:20 pm
Photo taken from Twinsburg Patch on Twitter

With the heroin epidemic claiming more lives, John Hopkins' researchers are suggesting that Baltimore, Michigan and other cities create safe houses where drug addicts can indulge safely.  Addicts would be carefully monitored to prevent overdosing.
Photo taken from Twinsburg Patch on Twitter With the heroin epidemic claiming more lives, John Hopkins' researchers are suggesting that Baltimore, Michigan and other cities create safe houses where drug addicts can indulge safely. Addicts would be carefully monitored to prevent overdosing.

 According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) 20.5 million people in the United States age 12 and over have an opiate dependency. 591,000 of those people have a dependency involving heroin and about 10 percent of those addicts overdose each year. So needless to say, opiate and heroin addictions are huge problems in the U.S.

According to the Fox News article, "Mayor wants to open supervised injection facility for heroin in NY city" by Cody Derespina, in 2016, the mayor of Ithaca, Svante Myrick, chose to tackle the problem with a proposition of heroin injection facilities during an interview with the Associated Press. 

"My father was a drug addict. He split from the family when I was five, six years old," Myrick told AP. "I have watched for 20 years this system that just doesn't work. We can't wait anymore for the federal government. We have people shooting up in alleys. In bathroom stalls. And too many of them are dying."

According to the NPR article, "Boston's Heroin Users Will Soon Get a Safer Place to be High" by Martha Bebinger, a similar idea was proposed by Dr. Jessie Gaeta, the chief medical officer for the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. The differing idea between the two structures would be that the facility suggested by Gaeta would not permit actual injection on the property, but instead would just be a safe area for individuals to spend their high in.

Now there's plenty of issues one would have to take into account when proposing something as radical as injection structures, not to mention the fact that heroin usage is still illegal. These buildings would need to be maintained, cleaned and be able to provide for overdosing addicts with medical assistance. 

I would like to believe that there are good and generous people in the world, but I do not think that people would donate much time or money from their day-to-day lives to babysit who many consider to be nothing more than just "drug addicts," especially when they're high on heroin, a drug that frightens many people around the world. Secondly, the costs of these buildings and upkeep would be astronomical. They would need to cover mortgage, property tax, electricity, heat, gas, water bills and more. The facility managers would have to have a way to pay the employees: custodial; medical assistance; supervisors; and lawyers that would have to settle the massive amount of unavoidable lawsuits involving the operation of these facilities. 

While it seems to be a great idea to keep heroin users safe, the advertisement of a "safer heroin" would only facilitate the idea that heroin has gotten safer because you can now shoot up in a safe environment. The idea of increased safety would encourage people who would have never tried heroin before to try it because they believe they'd be kept safe, only increasing the chances of more people becoming addicted to heroin. As a result, more facilities would need to be opened up, requiring more money to be funded toward these structures until the costs far outweigh the benefits and the facilities need to be shut down leaving an inevitable wake of heroin users without a place to go. 

Also to be considered: heroin is still illegal and if a police officer is in a bad mood one day these facilities would become a feeding ground for arrests and lawsuits involving criminal possession of controlled substances and the usage of Schedule 1 drugs. 

So it might seem like a beneficial suggestion, but the required costs and law issues involving it seem to push the idea beyond the grasp of reality.


gbori2@brockport.edu

Photo of the Week