From The Streets To The Clinics

Sabrina Jaynes, Editor

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  In a country built on blood, it could seem far-fetched that one of the leading causes of death is not due to simple things like war or automobile accidents, but due to the unfortunate event of an overdose. Since the early 1970’s, America has been in a long war against our deadliest opponents – drugs. Stemming from Nancy Reagan’s “Say No to Drugs” campaign, the citizens of our nation have put forth their best effort to educate the public on the dangers of substance abuse.  

   While they may try as hard as they can, the only powerful force in this match would be the federal government, and even they do not have complete watch over the population. While they may wish to control our every move, they can only go as far as supporting the organizations that plaster propaganda everywhere, other than creating laws against drugs that many citizens just work around. 

   From schools to public buildings, to widespread campaigns over social media, the message is everywhere — “Don’t Do Drugs.” But millions of Americans still die every year from overdoses. Why is no one listening to the facts?

AFP/Getty Images
Client in supervised injection Center in Vancouver, Canada, collects her kit on May 3, 2011. (Laurent Vu/The Lancet/AFP/Getty Images)      

  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2017, deaths from drug overdoses reached an all time high of 72,000 people. While the nation has not created a protocol to completely eradicate the flow of drugs over our borders and the creation within, government officials have turned to setting up injection sites throughout the states to help ease the problem.

  An injection site would be an area users can go to legally use drugs, such as heroin or methamphetamine. Not only will they not have to worry about legal matters, such as being arrested, but the environment itself would be far safer than any other public place they may have gone to before. The sites would be free for users, where they would have access to sterilized equipment, trained staff, and a place to inject peacefully.

  The staff would be equipped with the drug Naloxone, a drug intended to temporarily reverse the effects of an overdose. Not only is this drug expensive, about $20-$40 per dose, but it is hard to come by.

  A prescription is required to acquire the drug, so until a system is figured out, it would be incredibly difficult for these sites to get ahold of it. It effectively stops all effects from the drug, including the positive and the negative, essentially “shocking” the body into a sober state, just to save enough time to transport the user to a hospital. With sterilized equipment the chance of spreading diseases through syringes, (such as HIV) is cut dramatically.

  The sites could also provide information about resources regarding rehabilitation if the user requests it. Although many other organizations have tried for years to get this information to the public, users might be more inclined to look into it if they are seeing the effects of others around them.

  This was not created as a solution to the drug problem, but rather as a “harm reduction approach,” according to Vox, an American news site.  It is thought that by allowing these sites to spring up around the country, we will cut back on the death toll resulting from overdoses. This could be considered a more humane approach, but it does nothing to solve the real problem.

  While some locations in America are only having elected officials trying to gather support for the topic through public events, such as Denver, Vermont, and San Francisco; others have already begun drawing up the blueprints.

  Some have even considered using a van, because having a movable injection site would help aid across a large area, instead of those just in a local area.

  While some citizens are for it, the US Department of Justice is vocally against it. Quoted from a press statement, the sites would “violate federal law,” stopping many organizations in their track, as there are too many hurdles to go through.

  They believe it is a crime just to manage these sites, so how does any state expect to get past the planning stage?

  Canada currently has two sites within their borders, the most popular being Downtown Eastside in Vancouver. Users are not allowed to deal within the perimeter and must keep the drugs solely to themselves. They are escorted to booths, where they can inject, and then leave the facility.

  Some places even have a “chill room,” where they can relax after shooting up on couches. This whole process takes around 20 minutes.

  A major issue for these facilities is that they are being under-used. Many people believe it is too much work to go through this whole process when they can just use on any street curb.

  A positive aspect is that ever since DTES (the facility) has opened its doors, studies have shown a decrease in the spread of HIV and other blood borne diseases. But this lack of effectiveness has led officials to look towards other options, such as legalizing hard drugs, such as heroin, methamphetamine, or cocaine.

Example of stalls that clients enter (citynews1130.com)

  Some places in the UK have created “shooting galleries,” where users can go to shoot up for a fee. This may be a better way, as the project will at least have a source of funding.

  The cost of this project just seems to continually rise up as you add in all the factors. From the building and utilities, to the equipment and stuff, to even the drug itself, it is a fact these places are costly. But who is actually pushing this concept?

  Many people worry that these injection sites would actually increase drug use, because the topic would be more mainstream in our society. It might become as common as going to the gym or talking about the weather. While it might not intrude into our lives, it will be everywhere.

  Some believe that injection sites are not a solution to the problem, but rather prolonging the negative aspects. As they begin to pop-up around the world, this problem will escalate, perhaps even so far we won’t be able to come back from it.

About the Writer
Sabrina Jaynes, Editor

I am hoping to pursue journalism as a major at UNR, but am currently making my way through high school.

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