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The Idiocracy of Safe Injection Sites

by Jake Grosvenor, Editor-in-Chief

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In mid-January, the city of Philadelphia announced they had a plan to create places, with taxpayer money, to let junkies “safely” inject drugs in an effort to combat the issue of overdose and addiction. Aside from it being a waste of public funding that could be used to fix our school systems, the idea of letting junkies and criminals get high off illegal drugs without consequence is beyond counterproductive to their cause.

The city of Philadelphia says that with these types of areas, they would let junkies inject themselves with drugs, such as heroin, with provided sanitary needles and a standby doctor in case of an overdose.

Dr. Thomas Farley, a public health commissioner, says that “No one here condones or supports illegal drug use in any way. We want people saddled with drug addiction to get help.”

Though the intent is to stop the issue of overdose and addiction, the means in which they are attempting this offers nothing more than the option to get high and if they feel like it, get help. Not to mention, Philadelphia has the highest overdose rate.

These areas aren’t a place for addicts to come and seek free help to combat their issue and try to abandon it.

The idea in it of itself makes no sense: to create an area where junkies can go to get high without the police to arrest any said lawbreakers and not even force any kind of therapy or rehab is a waste of money.  This type of mentality of wishful thinking, believing that if they have a place to get the help they’ll take even though keeping their habit is allowed, is dangerous for our society.

While Philadelphia would be the first city in America to create such a place, it isn’t the first in the world.

In Toronto, they have the same type of program that allows for addicts to inject with a similar set up to the one purposed in Philadelphia. While only being open for six months, there is very little data on the effectiveness of these site, and the only number available is that there were 139 lives that were saved because of the program.

While that number sounds nice, there is no legitimate research on whether these addicts continued to do drugs after their near death experience or if they went on to be contributing members of society. With such little facts of whether or not these areas are saving lives that go on to make a difference, it makes no sense to use Canada as the only support on letting such an area be built.

Even officials can’t  work out the logistics of  how such a center would even work. In response to how police would handle arrests and patrolling of the area, the renounding answer was, we don’t  know. While still lacking full clarity on the laws and legal boundaries of such areas, some are still adamit on the city’s plan to build such a center.

Philadelphia’s District Attorney, Larry Krasner stated that “We will make sure that idealistic medical students don’t get busted for saving lives and that other people who are trying to stop the spread of disease don’t get busted.”

The issue with trying to defend that police couldn’t arrest anyone because they’re “trying to create good” is naive at best. While the doctors that would be there are to help others, junkies trying to get clean needles to inject drugs do not fall under a jurisdiction that allows the committing of minor violations in the interest of preventing greater harms (something Krasner quoted as his reason for not worrying about police) under any circumstance.

With that kind of logic, attacking someone with a sterilized knife because they’re smoking in a non-smoking area is completely legal because it’s stopping the spread of cancerous smoke, when in reality that’s called assault.

The idea that everyone would go there to prevent the spread of disease is nice, but like welfare, people can and will abuse such a program.

While the discussion of whether or not a safe place to do drugs is a polarizing one, those who support the claim say that it should be made for the fact that it’s the government’s responsibility to take care of its citizens. With Philadelphia suffering from the highest overdose deaths in the nation, just looking up the two words Philadelphia and overdose will give you articles from; 50 people dead within a day to 70 dead in 30 days, the public is rightfully worried about this epidemic of overdoses. And while this kind of issue is heartbreaking, it isn’t our government’s job to correct this by opening these kinds of centers.

Looking at the 2016 Chart report from Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health, it reports that 907 people died of overdose in that year alone and opioids were found in over 80 percent of all drug related deaths.

The opioid epidemic is one that has caught nationwide attention, with President Trump declaring it a health emergency.

The line between those addicted to opiods and those who are addicted to drugs for the high, like crack and heroin, is thin between who really deserves help.

While there are people who willingly choose to do drugs known to cause addiction and other horrible affects, there are a group of addicts who are sucked in by the fault of incompetent doctors prescribing pills with far more lenancy than ever before.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine “The prescribing rates for prescription opioids among adolescents and young adults nearly doubled from 1994 to 2007”

And that’s only kids 12-17. According to the same report, women are more likely to have chronic pain and be prescribed pain medication. The study shows that 48,000 women died of prescription pain reliever overdoses between 1999 and 2010.

The opioid epidemic should be one of our largest concerns right now, and helping those already addicted by offering a place to shoot up is not helping anyone. What needs to be done is a more rigorous prescription protocol put into place, especially with medication infamously known for causing addiction.

The CDC (Center for Diseases Control and Prevention) even acknowledges the issue:

“Health care providers, including those in primary care settings, report concern about opioid-related risks of addiction and overdose, as well as insufficient training in pain management.”

It’s no secret what needs to be done. We need to control and manage the way we are prescribing such risky medicine and ensure that doctors are properly handling their patients. Whether it’s through peer checking of prescriptions or not making them so easy to access, something needs to be done,  now more than ever is the time to really start trying to make a realistic change with these drug overdoses, and safe injection sites are not the answer.

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