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Report reveals underground drug user safe haven injection site operated quietly in the U.S.

August 8, 2017  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Report reveals underground drug user safe haven injection site operated quietly in the U.S.

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A shocking new study reveals that for the past three years, a supervised drug user safe haven, where people can inject themselves with heroin and other drugs, has been quietly operating in the United States.

The report published Tuesday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine cites two researchers, who stated they evaluated users at an underground safe place over a two-year period beginning in 2014.

The report acknowledged the existence of the drug user safe haven, which remained open between four and six hours a day, five days a week.

The disclosure is the first confirmation of the existence of the drug user safe haven in U.S.

Safe injection sites are different from syringe exchange programs, which at one time were controversial but now exist in 33 states.

Several states and cities have been proponents of these so-called supervised injection sites, where users inject narcotics under the careful supervision of trained staff who can treat an overdose.

However, as a condition of their research, they could not disclose the agency operating the program or the location of the facility which could be potentially illegal.

Paramedics used Naxolone on an overdose victim (Youtube screen shot)

Although the researchers offered no data, they did reveal no deaths occurred while injecting at the safe place.

However, two overdoses did occur on site, which was immediately treated by trained staff using the anti-overdose medication naloxone.

In recent years, advocates and some political leaders have called for government-sanctioned injection sites as the U.S. in the midst of a raging opioid epidemic.

In 2015, there were a record 52,000 fatalities in the U.S. resulting from drug overdoses mostly fueled by heroin and prescription painkiller addiction.

Statistics also released this week by the Center for Disease Control showed that the death rate from overdoses continued to spiral in the first nine months of 2016.

Some experts say the findings in the new report could impact efforts to establish safe injection sites around the U.S.

Advocates have long argued that the use of supervised injection sites would decrease the record number of overdose cases currently inflicting the U.S.

Advocates say drug safe haven like the one seen above in British Colombia help prevent the spread of HIV

Lawmakers in several states including California and New York back the measure.

Officials in cities including San Francisco, Ithaca, New York, and Seattle also support such a program.

“It shows people that it’s possible to operate one of these in the U.S.,” Lindsay LaSalle, an attorney with Drug Policy Alliance who has helped draft legislation for drug user safe havens in six states.

Countries including the Netherlands, Spain, Canada, Australia, France, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Norway have legalized programs where medical professionals monitor drug users.

The programs also take measures to prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C by providing clean needles, while also steering users into treatment and other services, the Associated Press reported.

Many experts in the medical community and advocates applaud the study and argue that new approaches including the use of safe havens are needed to fight the opioid epidemic.

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However, such measures have faced legal and political obstacles from opponents who maintain these facilities threaten prevention and treatment efforts while undermining laws intended to stop illegal drug use.

Alex Kral, a researcher with RTI International in San Francisco, and Peter Davidson of the University of California, San Diego, provided rare insight into the facility where users can utilize the space by invitation only.

The researchers noted that over the course of a two-year period, the facility was used 2,500 times by 100 visitors, mostly white homeless men.

The facility has two rooms, an “injection room” consisting of five stainless steel stations with mirrors and stools used to inject drugs.

Afterward, users are placed in a room next door where subjects are closely monitored.

Drugs including heroin, prescription pain killers, cocaine, and methamphetamine are allowed at the facility. However, smoking is prohibited.

According to the researchers, the program employs a trained staff, but no one is medically licensed.

The study didn’t look at whether the creation of a safe space promoted drug use or was linked to an increase in new drug users, which both points have been argued by opponents.

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