A new proposal aimed at stopping a dangerous epidemic is stirring up some major controversy, and prompting a big debate on how to handle the issue.
The Seattle and larger King County area in Washington state is facing a major dilemma: how to stop the spread of disease from tainted needles by drug users. The solution they’re putting forward is to create a space where heroin addicts can shoot up their drugs under the supervision of a nurse and with clean needles, something that officials are confident will lower the spread of disease but certainly is an unorthodox way of handling illegal drugs.
The proposal, which is moving forward in Seattle and King County, would be the home of the first two government-run heroin injection sites in the United States, and just the second in site in North America after nearby Vancouver over the Canadian border, which the city is looking to as an example.
At the consumption sites, clean needles would be provided and the addicts could use their drugs under the eyes of the nurse without fear of prosecution from local authorities, although the Drug Enforcement Administration remains another matter. There’s no sign the DEA will intervene, however.
Officials believe that the use of tainted needles is out of control in the University District, and this is the only practical method to prevent it.
“Heroin use has increased sharply across the United States among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels,” the CDC says about the heroin epidemic. “Some of the greatest increases occurred in demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use: women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes.
“Heroin use has increased sharply across the United States among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels. Some of the greatest increases occurred in demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use: women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes.”