The key goal behind allowing safer consumption spaces, or supervised injection facilities, is to prevent overdose deaths, which have risen drastically in recent years. For 2015 and 2016, deaths from opioids like heroin and fentanyl statewide outside of New York City rose from 1,520 to 1,879, and experts say they likely continued to increase in 2017.
“The sooner New York allows safer consumption spaces, the more lives we’ll save,” said Shantae Owens of the group VOCAL-NY.
“New York’s continued leadership — and our ability to make an impact on the overdose epidemic — requires taking bold new steps to save lives,” the group said on its website.
Supporters say such places would be a controlled environment with trained staff to prevent and to respond to overdoses, as well as to provide guidance to health services.
Lawmakers are again considering several measures to reduce opioid addiction in the state. This year the End Overdose New York coalition is hoping to add safer consumption sites to the list.
Saturday’s event was less about explaining the problem everyone knows exists, and more about finding compassionate solutions to support those dealing with addiction.
Frederique led the crowd in a chant: “Not one more,” calling for more efforts to prevent opioid deaths. “Say it like you mean it,” she told the crowd.
Tens of thousands of drug users have visited the facilities, thousands have overdosed and, researchers say, no deaths have been reported. Studies show that a substantial number of drug users who visit safe injection sites end up in treatment, which is routinely offered to them. Research also has shown that the facilities help contain hepatitis C and HIV infections and are a cost-effective way to save lives.
“Since that day in April, Governor Cuomo has continued to speak in favor of ending AIDS during each of his annual State of the State addresses starting in 2015. But this month at the same address, the Governor’s most-watched political moment of the year, the Governor didn’t mention HIV or AIDS once, and we heard a painful reminder of that silence that has caused the deaths of so many.”