According to STAT, it can be expected that as many as 650,000 people will die in the next decade due to opioid overdose. This equals to the entire population of the city of Baltimore. If precautions such as safe injection centers aren’t taken to control this, the United States of America risks losing a whole city worth of people in 10 years.
These fatalities would be on top of the already existing death rate that America faces in a decade. In the year 2016 alone, 64,000 people died in America. The leading cause of their deaths? Drug overdose. The drugs used by these people were synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, heroin, painkillers such as OxyContin and Percocet and many more. This data was retrieved from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The death toll of the opioid crisis is even higher than the deaths caused by AIDS, guns, and car crashes in America.
This opioid dependency is the major factor that has resulted in the average American life expectancy to drop by two years in 2015 as well as 2016. This would be the first time since 1960 that America has witnessed a life expectancy drop such as this one.
The Solution: Injection Centers
The American government came up with a singular solution to tackle this problem as soon as possible: safe spaces for the use of heroin. This idea originated and gained traction in San Francisco as the people continually suggested the inauguration of medically supervised injection centers and the government actually listened to the people for a change.
On October 31st of 2017, the Victorian government approved a trial based MSIC in North Richmond. However the Andrews Government strong condemns this decision and is not in the favor of a medical facility that allows people to use dangerous drugs under supervision. They consider it a step backward in the war against drugs.
What Are Medically Supervised Injection Centers?
At these centers, people will be able to use drugs in a sterile environment under the supervision of medically trained staff who is educated in the measures that are to be taken in the case of an overdose. These centers also help people get addiction treatment is they so require it.
This begs the question as to why? The idea is that in an ideal world, there wouldn’t be anyone who uses dangerous and deadly drugs but that is not the world that we live in. So essentially it is in the favor of the American government working to reduce the nation’s death rate to provide drug users with a safe space where they can inject themselves with drugs under proper supervision.
There have been many studies that show that supervised drug facilities actually do work. This kind of facilities exist in Canada, Europe, and Australia and they show a significant drop on the overdose death rates along with risky behaviors that leads to diseases such as Hepatitis C transmission, HIV, and other such problems. And yet in America, these injection centers remain a highly controversial matter.
America on Drugs
America has always had a criminalized and stigmatized approach towards drug use. It basically wants there to be an end to all kinds of drug use over the nation and to make sure that nothing that even resembles as enabling drugs is allowed anywhere. For people who view the world this way, it makes sense why a safe space for supervised drug use might seem like a crazy idea.
Injection Centers in the Long Run
We know how bizarre this must sound. In no way is anyone trying to claim that these centers are saving people because they are not. Harm is being done with or without these supervised drug use centers but what they do in the long run is reduce the overall harm, even if it is just by a smidge. The people who want to use dangerous drugs will use them whether or not there is a safe space available for it. To them, it doesn’t matter what happens to them. But the sole purpose of these centers is to ensure that these people who under the influence have no regard for their own safety, don’t die under their watch. If they live to see another day, they have a fighting chance to overcome their addiction.