As the opioid crisis continues to ravage the United States, many cities and states have embarked on significant efforts to combat the problem.
For New York City, a city that has seen a surge in overdoses caused by heroin and fentanyl, however, the city’s plan to combat the plague includes opening the city’s first-ever supervised drug consumption facility.
The city announced the move in July. During the first 10 months of 2016, the death toll from opioid-related overdose reached more than 2,300, more than double that of the same period the previous year. And in 2015, overdoses at the city’s drug injection sites killed a total of 323 New Yorkers, according to New York City Health Department data.
According to the NYCDH, the supervised consumption site will provide users with sterile syringes as well as information about access to treatment and drug overdose prevention such as naloxone. It will also offer counseling for people struggling with addiction.
“What we’re proposing would allow people to inject without fear or concern for their health,” Dr. Jonathan Cantor, the health department’s director of the Center for Harm Reduction, said in a statement. “It is a public health solution for our public health crisis.”
Cantor said the center will inspect the facility “on a daily basis.”
“We’ll enforce the requirement that user syringes and toxicology kits be kept in clean containers and that the materials are disposed of safely,” Cantor said.
The health department will partner with Public Health and Clinical Services to bring the facility to life.
In June, the city launched a pilot program that provides heroin and heroin replacement therapies, as well as other substances, to users to prevent the spread of blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C.
According to the NYCDH, the program has been met with “very positive outcomes,” including reduced HIV infections and viral hepatitis, as well as improvements in the access of non-medical treatment.
In August, it opened a similar overdose prevention site in the Bronx. In addition to providing methadone to patients, that program offers training on how to use an opioid antidote, but isn’t mandated to do so.
To date, there have been 8,658 opioid overdose deaths in the country in 2016.