Resources & Education

September 18th, 2017

Q&A: Supervised Injection Facilities

A Supervised Injection Facility is a place where someone can self-inject previously obtained drugs (such as heroin, other opioids and controlled substances) and be supervised by trained personnel in a judgement free zone.

There is an enormous amount of controversy surrounding the concept of Supervised Injection Facilities in the US. One side argues that such sites could reduce the amount of fatal overdoses. Why? Because trained medical professionals are standing by ready to intervene should someone overdose. Also, these professionals encourage safe and sterile injection equipment to reduce the risk of infectious diseases (re: needle sharing). On the other side of the coin are people who are strongly opposed to such facilities. One reason being that if you make drug use socially acceptable and safe, why would someone stop using? Also many are alarmed over where such a site would be located and if it would attract dealers.

The following are some frequently asked questions and answers about SIFs.

Are there any SIFs in the US?

No. Currently there are 97 SIFs in the world (66 cities in 11 countries). Two are located in Vancouver, BC, Canada. It’s been proposed to open pilot SIFs proposed in Seattle, San Francisco and New York, however, it’s unclear if these will ever get off the ground. ¬†The American Medical Association is endorsing the initiative, but it’s not clear when or if these projects will actually launch.

If there a track record of success?

According to the Summer 2017 issue of Family Doctor Journal, of the tens of millions of supervised injections at such sites, only one death has been reported. Furthermore, in Vancouver, a SIF was responsible for a 35% decrease in fatal overdoses.

Are drugs provided?

No. Drugs are not sold or provided in a SIF. Also, steps are taken to prevent dealers from meeting with buyers. However, safe and sterile injection equipment is provided.

What about recovery and care?

SIFs provide a gateway to care. When users are ready for recovery, they will be referred to treatment such as detox, medically supervised treatment, counseling and support.

Now it’s your turn. What side of the debate are you on? Is this a good idea or a step in the wrong direction? Share your thoughts¬†on Facebook.

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