Many people view drug addicts as bad individuals who have no morals or self-respect; however, this is not the case. An addiction can take over a person’s life before he or she even realises what is happening, which can cause them to act in a selfish or even unfair manner; often, the addict will not fully accept that he or she has a problem until undergoing addiction treatment. And the current widespread drug ‘epidemic’ is affecting many countries around the world, not just here in the UK, and governments are considering ways in which this crisis can be tackled. One idea that seems to be gaining traction is ‘shooting galleries’, where addicts can consume drugs in a safe and clean environment under medical supervision.

Tackling Drug Related Deaths

After the recent opening of a ‘shooting gallery’ in Glasgow, many other cities in countries across the world are now considering doing the same thing. One city in particular where officials are seriously considering injection rooms as a way to tackle drug abuse is San Francisco. There are many different opinions on shooting galleries/injection rooms, with some saying that providing addicts with a safe and clean environment in which to consume drugs could help to tackle drug-related deaths and diseases. However, others are not so welcoming of the idea and feel that this would be encouraging people to consume more drugs in the city.

Win-Win Situation

It is estimated that by opening a shooting gallery in San Francisco, the city could save $3.5 million per year in decreased medical fees. A new study has suggested that an injection facility would help 110 drug addicts receiving medication-assisted addiction treatment every year. As well as this, it is predicted that it would stop around nineteen cases of hepatitis C and three cases of HIV every year while also reducing hospital admissions for soft tissue and skin infections by 415 days per year. Senior author of the study, Alex Kral, said, “To me, it’s really a win-win for everyone. It’s a win for the community to get people off the streets, and it’s a win for the people injecting drugs to be sure they can be as safe as possible.”

Innovative, Evidence-Based Solution

The study authors have estimated that the US spends over $6 billion annually on medical expenses for drug addicts. Kral said, “This is one way to reduce what is one of the biggest sources of mortality in the country. We’ve tried a lot of things in the last 50 years, and none of them have succeeded. So why not try an innovative, evidence-based solution that’s working in upwards of a dozen countries?”

Kral and his team believe that it would cost around $2 million to purchase and renovate a site for this shooting gallery, and approximately $2.6 million per year to run it. However, with every dollar spent, $2.33 would be saved due to prevented deaths from overdose, a reduction in the number of diseases being transmitted, and an increase in the number of people receiving drug treatment.

Safe Consumption Space

Overall savings would be higher in cities where there is a higher volume of drug-related deaths and where operating costs may be lower. The authors believe that a shooting gallery would be most beneficial to a city such as Baltimore, which has a higher number of drug addicts dying from heroin overdoses. Susan Sherman, professor of health, behaviour and society at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore is currently working on a similar study into an injection facility for her city. She explained that people are opposed to these supervised injection facilities as they are worried that they could encourage drug abusers to come into the area; however, these shooting galleries would be placed in areas where there are high volumes of addicts already living.

She added, “We have neighbourhoods in Baltimore where heroin is the biggest economy. Having a place to go and not being on a dirty street corner is foundational for dignity and respect, which can transfer into other aspects of their lives. Having a safe consumption space somewhere in the U.S. is going to happen. It’s close to reality in New York, Ithaca and Seattle.”

Best Chance at Overcoming Addiction

The safety and wellbeing of addicts are important, which is why governments around the world are considering ways to help these individuals and support them. You may have concerns regarding a loved one’s addiction and be unsure of what steps to take next. If so, contact us here at Liberty House Clinic.

Our recovery clinic is designed to ensure that patients have the best chance at overcoming their addiction thanks to our fantastic addiction treatments and programmes; our priority is to make sure that anyone who enters our clinic, leaves drug- or alcohol-free. If you require additional information or have any queries, then do not hesitate to get in touch with us and we will do everything in our power to assist you further.

Source:  Supervised injection site for addicts could save San Francisco money, lives (Reuters)