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Safe-injection sites provide hope

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As overdose rates rise across America, Philadelphia is moving to open a supervised injection site that will create meaningful change for the communities most affected by this public health epidemic. 

This is a landmark decision, not only for Philadelphia, but for the United States. Safehouse’s safe-injection site will be the first to operate in the United States, in the face of a growing opioid addiction and overdose epidemic. 

Safehouse, a non-profit organization focused on reducing the number of overdose related deaths, has been Philadelphia’s primary advocate for supervised injection sites, also known as safe-injection sites. Safehouse’s efforts led federal judges to rule in favor of creating a safe-injection site Oct. 2, stating that these sites would not violate federal drug laws. 

Opioid overdose deaths have increased exponentially over the last 10 years, and Pennsylvania ranks among the states with the highest overdose death rates, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Between the years of 2016 and 2017, the CDC overdose deaths increased by 9.7%. 

Although a majority of overdose deaths are caused by synthetic opioids, heroin continues to pose a significant threat with the National Institute on Drug Abuse observing a 545% increase in heroin related overdose deaths between 2007 and 2017.

With statistics as grim as these, the prospect of a solution that can bring those struggling with drug addiction out of the dark brings new hope. A 2017 study from Thomas Jefferson University and Main Line Health reviewed the efficacy of facilities like the one Safehouse is proposing and showed a significant decrease in the number of overdose deaths, an increase in hygienic usage and an increase in users seeking treatment for addiction. 

These sites can create change for communities wrought by drug abuse, and the ruling is making way for drug reform that will reduce the stigma attached to drug addiction and allow people to find a pathway to recovery.

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