New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio endorsed the use of facilities for drug addicts to legally inject under medical supervision Thursday, claiming it will cut down the number of overdose deaths.
More than 60,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016, and the opioid epidemic is estimated to have taken more than 70,000 in 2017. The first supervised injection site in North America opened in Canada in 2003, but none currently exist in the U.S. De Blasio’s proposition is a one-year pilot program to open four clinics in various NYC neighborhoods, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
“After a rigorous review of similar efforts across the world, and after careful consideration of public health and safety expert views, we believe overdose prevention centers will save lives and get more New Yorkers into the treatment they need to beat this deadly addiction,” De Blasio said in a statement.
A single injection site can cost as much as $3 million annually or as little as $250,000, depending on the services provided. Drug deaths in Vancouver have skyrocketed, despite Canada having two injection sites there. Nearly 800 residents died from overdoses in the first half of 2018 — an 88 percent increase over the same period in 2017.
Cities without injection sites aren’t doing any better, however, and the ever-mounting overdose deaths in the U.S. have many lawmakers scrambling for solutions — even ones so apparently radical as legalized injection.
“These sites will save lives and connect addicts with treatment options and trained professionals that could lead them to recovery,” De Blasio claimed.
The sites could save 130 lives in a year and save the city up to $7 million in annual health-care costs by lowering the number of emergency overdose calls, the city estimates.
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