Open ‘Safe Places’ in Seattle, King County for Heroin Use, Task Force SaysPosted: September 15, 2016 | |
A task force is recommending the creation of sites in King County to provide medical supervision for people using illegal drugs like heroin, which would be the first in the U.S.
Vernal Coleman reports: The task force formed to help fight a heroin epidemic in the Seattle area has recommended the opening of public, supervised sites where addicts can use heroin.
The sites, supported by both King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, would be the first of their kind in the country.
“If it’s a strategy that saves lives … then regardless of the political discomfort I think it is something we have to move forward,” Constantine said during a Thursday news conference.
Murray said he would support establishing the sites if it can be done “in a way that reduces the negative impacts” on neighborhoods.
The recommendations released Thursday call for a pilot program to establish two “community health-engagement locations” in targeted areas where users can inject heroin under medical supervision as an alternative to public restrooms, alleys and homeless encampments like The Jungle.
The committee called for putting one site in Seattle, and another outside of the city in an area where a high number of heroin overdoses have been recorded.
“One of the driving ideas behind this is creating a safe space where we can get people the medical, prevention and treatment services already provided elsewhere,” said Brad Finegood, committee co-chairman and assistant director of the King County Behavioral Health and Recovery Division.
The move was expected by the task force formed earlier this year. The committee’s recommendations also call for the expansion of existing drug-treatment and prevention programs, increasing access to the overdose-prevention drug Naloxone, and undoing state laws that cap the number of patients that can be treated at methadone clinics.
The release follows reports of a countywide drop in heroin-related deaths. Overdose deaths connected to heroin use fell by 15 percent in King County last year, but county health officials stress that heroin abuse remains a significant problem.
Heroin was involved in 132 deaths in the county in 2015, down from a peak of 156 deaths in 2014. But that’s higher than the 99 heroin deaths in 2013….(read more)
Source: The Seattle Times
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