The topic of a Safe Injection Site (SIS) has been a hot button issue this election season, amounting to large anti-SIS campaigns, a ban in Burien, and a judge deeming it a public health issue that should not be voted on.
There isn’t much definitive information on how an SIS would work in America; most statistics coming from Europe are hard to apply in this country due to the nature of how different the political and social landscapes are. It’s hard to know where to start with SIS debate so let’s begin with the main point.
SIS Will Save Lives
Yes, they will save lives; which in itself might be enough to implement SIS. However, opponents are quick to point out that making life-destroying drugs easier to use isn’t exactly a good thing.
From there we can get into the weeds about many other points, but I want to focus on local impact. One of the greatest fears of opening an SIS is that we are condemning a part of town into seedy poverty. By putting an SIS in a “high risk” area, we will ensure its squalid surroundings forever.
“Several studies report that small-scale drug trafficking takes place in the immediate vicinity of consumption rooms”
The Report then goes on to say:
“However, as many rooms are deliberately located near places where illicit drugs are sold, it is difficult to claim… the existence of such rooms leads… to drug dealing.”
In other words, they seem to say, drug deals were already happening so you can’t say SIS caused an increase. Illegal drugs being sold in an area doesn’t justify condemning that neighborhood to be forever a drug zone. Dealers will go to where users congregate, creating hot spots and worsening the problem. By making an area more convenient and inviting to DO drugs, you are making it all too convenient to SELL drugs.
This will essentially create an area in town where drug activity is legal. And yet, the European Report claims that SIS somehow won’t attract people to do drugs there. Creating a service meant to attract a demographic and then denying it, is backwards. Either it attracts people or it doesn’t. It can’t only attract people who already were doing drugs in the area and no one else. Worsening the drug epidemic is an outcome that I’m sure we all want to avoid.
It is clear that building an SIS will save the lives of users who overdose. However, it will do nothing to stop already established drug markets. In fact, it will bolster the drug trade and do little to solve the true causes of drug abuse. We see SIS as enabling and babysitting users. Instead, we need a compassionate solution that focuses on treatment and reduction of drug use.
Feel like we missed something? We want to hear what you have to say. Post a comment below with what you think about Safe Injection Sites.