What are safe injection sites?
They’re controlled environments to safely inject drugs, under the watch of medical professionals. Safe injection sites (pictured to the left) provide sterile environments, with sterile needles, gauze, tourniquets, cookers, Narcan, and alcohol wipes. Some facilities have counselors, most offer referrals to treatment and information about recovery. Many of these sites refer to themselves as a “bridge to recovery” like the SC does.
Where are the safe injection sites?
The first injection site was opened in Berne, Switzerland in 1986. Originally opened to combat HIV, the café eventually became used for injecting and the staff advocated and succeeded with local law enforcement and politicians to continue allowing people to inject safely in their space. Presently, many are in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark. Canada has approx. 39 safe sites. Portland currently has a safe injection site, and there are more proposed for Pennsylvania, New York City, and Denver to name a few.
Are safe injection sites helpful?
While there is still much debate about the efficacy of safe injection sites, here is some data that has come out.
- 3,180 overdoses were reversed at a German site between 2000 and 2013.
- A 68% drop in the number of opioid-related overdose ambulance calls in the area surrounding a Sydney supervised consumption site compared to areas without one.
- Nearly 175,000 client visits to a Vancouver, Canada, supervised consumption site, including 49,000 clinical treatment visits and 6,440 overdose interventions.
- According to one study at a BC, Canada injection site – syringe borrowing is down from 37% in 1996 to 2% in 2011.
- Near one safe injection site, average monthly ambulance calls with naloxone treatment for suspected opioid overdose decreased from 27 to 9.
- Before the safe injection sites opened in Vancouver, 35% of 598 intravenous drug users were admitted to hospital in a 3-year period, 15% for skin infections. After these sites were opened, the number decreased to 9%