In a measure that can be safely described as controversial, the New York City Council has set aside $100,000 to examines the benefits and consequences of supervised injection facilities. The money is part of budgetary resources allocated to help fight the spread of heroin and opioid overdose. These facilities would allow heroin users to inject the drug into their veins using sterile equipment under the supervision of a healthcare professional who will be standing by with the drug Narcan in the event of an overdose. Proponents argue that they may cut down on the some of the factors the heighten risk of heroin abuse, including dirty needles and fear of legal repercussions that prevent so many from calling when their friends suffer overdoses.
While these facilities currently exist in several other countries, and their domestic consideration may be born of noble intent, it’s worth considering whether or not it’s the first step toward surrender to an overwhelming problem for we’ve officially run out of solutions. Many argue that allowing these facilities to flourish in the New York community is simply giving up on finding ways to mitigate its use. Granted it’s only $100,000 in a multi-million dollar budget; however, some are fearful that this line of thinking creates a slipper slope. Moreover, it’s also worth asking if this $100,000 would not be better spent on the study of a new type of treatment therapy or more anti-overdose resources enforcement.
As a nation, we have not even come close to putting the full weight of our resources behind finding solutions to heroin and opioid abuse that don’t accept use and addiction as an inevitability, and institutionalizes it. While nothing should be off the table in deciding how to best curb opioid abuse and addiction, perhaps a lengthier and more meaningful conversation should take place before we monetize complacency.