‘Take Turns’: New York City Public Health Poster Says Doing Drugs Is Fine If Done Safely


Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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A poster from the New York City Department of Public Health went viral on social media Friday for encouraging New Yorkers to be “empowered” by safe drug use and provided tips on how to avoid fentanyl “overdoses.”

“‘Don’t be ashamed you are using, be empowered that you are using safely,'” the poster reads in bold print next to a photograph of a black woman who may or may not be “Florence,” to whom the quote is attributed. While the poster starts by discussing heroin, it largely focuses on the dangers of the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

The poster states that “fentanyl is a powerful opioid that can be found in heroin, cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, ketamine, and pressed pills.” A majority of people who ingest and die from fentanyl are technically “poisoned” by the substance, according to CBC, as they believe they are using the other drugs listed on the poster. (RELATED: New Jersey Child Poisoned After Cleaning Uncle’s Fentanyl Lab, Prosecutors Say)

NYC Dept. of Public Health only refers to fentanyl poisonings as “overdoses.” Their tips for avoiding “overdoses” include, “avoid using alone and take turns; start with a small dose and go slowly; have naloxone on hand; avoid mixing drugs; test your drugs using fentanyl test strips.”

When asked for comment, NYC Dept. of Health Press Secretary Patrick Gallahue sent the Daily Caller a statement from an April press release on this latest campaign, saying “Every four hours, a New Yorker dies of a drug overdose. Shame pushes people underground. Shame drives people away from services. Shame puts people at even greater risk. And shame is life-threatening. We want to fight shame and stigma. We want people to live.”

When asked whether he was concerned that the department is encouraging hard drug use, which is a crime in NYC, Gallahue responded with “as I said,” and sent the same statement, refusing to answer the question directly.

Opioids have been attributed to almost 70% of drug-related deaths in the United States, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. Fentanyl is relatively low-cost for drug dealers and gangs as it is produced en masse in China and shipped to Mexico for easy access to the United States via the open southern border.