Overdose Prevention Cites

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by: Victoria Bahary and Jack Perdue

An opioid epidemic is occurring in the United States of America. In 2021, 98, 268 citizens passed away from preventable drug overdoses. Government officials are desperately striving to find incentives to battle this grave issue. On November 30th of 2021, the first safe injection sites in the U.S. were made open to the public. One is located in Washington Heights, and the other is located in East Harlem. These sites are formally referred to as overdose prevention centers.

At overdose prevention centers, individuals are provided with clean needles, in order to prevent the spread of diseases such as HPV, illnesses, and various injuries related to injecting. They are also required to dispose of the needles properly. This reduces syringe litter, which is another issue. Furthermore, healthcare professionals supervise the individuals while they are shooting up, in order to prevent overdoses. Once symptoms of a potential overdose appear, overdose prevention site staff will immediately intervene. In the event of an overdose, healthcare professionals are equipped with Narcan to prevent death. 

Overdose prevention centers are a proven health intervention in preventing deaths pertaining to drug overdoses. There have been no recorded deaths at these facilities. In addition, for every 1000 injections that occur, only one overdose will occur. Once again, none of these overdoses have been fatal. 

Other states such as Colorado and New Mexico are planning on opening overdose prevention sites, however, officials in Vermont and California have vetoed the bill known as the Safer Consumption Services Act. 

Overdose prevention centers are already operating across the globe in countries such as Australia, Portugal, Canada, and France and have been successful. For instance, Portugal’s opioid crisis has leveled off ever since these sites have been implemented. Additionally, the surrounding area of a safe injection site in Vancouver, Canada has seen a 26% net reduction in deaths related to overdoses, as opposed to the remaining parts of the city.

Currently, in the United States, the government is planning on sponsoring a study proving that safe injection sites prevent drug overdoses. The grant will provide New York University and Brown University students a grant of $5 million dollars in order to conduct this study. The researchers plan on enrolling 1,000 adult drug users to examine the overdose prevention sites and how they contribute to preventing overdoses and deaths. This study will hopefully inspire other states to follow New York’s lead. 


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