Should NJ have safe sites for shooting heroin?
Because we're not New York and Not Philadelphia but rather proud to be New Jersey, we don't often cover things that have nothing to do with us. But this issue kind of does.
I read today that Philadelphia wants to become the first city in the U.S. to have supervised injection sites where heroin addicts can go to shoot up their deadly drug. They would be under the watchful eye of a doctor or a nurse. The medical professional would stand by and do nothing to stop them but if they got into trouble the professional would administer an overdose antidote.
Are. You. Freaking. Kidding. Me?
This epic idea is backed by Public Health Commish Dr. Thomas Farley saying these places could be "a life-saving strategy and a pathway to treatment. No one here condones or supports illegal drug use in any way. We want people saddled with drug addiction to get help."
While there's been talk in other cities, it has yet to happen. Farley had to look outside the U.S. to Vancouver to point out their safe injection sites have reduced deaths from overdoses and slowed the spread of hepatitis C and HIV.
So what's this have to do with Jersey? Philadelphia has the highest opioid death rate of any major U.S. city with more than 1,200 people dying just last year. New Jersey has one of the highest opioid death rates among all states. Nearly 2,000 New Jerseyans died of opioid overdoses in the last year figures were available.
So should Jersey look into the same? Should we have places set up around the Garden State with a nurse or doctor on hand where heroin addicts could come in and shoot up, snort, smoke? This is one of the most disturbing ideas to come along in some time. For Farley or anyone else to say "no one here condones or supports illegal drug use" while suggesting medical personnel stand back and just watch this happen is specious at best. By agreeing to do this you are complicit in the potentially deadly act. Not all antidotes will work every time they are administered. Can it serve as an outreach to start a bond and a dialogue towards getting the person help? Yes. But there's got to be a better way to do that than sitting by and watching them try to kill themselves.
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