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A look inside the first 'safe injection sites' in the US

Safe Injection Sites
Posted at 1:04 PM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 16:04:41-05

Two modest rooms in New York City are the first places in the United States where local officials are allowing illicit drug use to make it less deadly. The privately run "overdose prevention centers" are equipped and staffed to reverse opioid overdoses.

They are also known as safe injection sites and are a bold and contested response to a tide of overdose deaths nationwide. Supporters see them as humane responses to a national surge in overdose deaths. Critics see them as illegal and defeatist. People who use drugs there say they're a place where someone is looking out to make sure that they don't overdose.

An overdose prevention specialist helps a client suffering from addiction find a vein to inject intravenous drugs at an overdose prevention center, at OnPoint NYC in New York, N.Y., Friday, Feb. 18, 2022. Also known as a safe injection site, the privately run center is equipped and staffed to reverse overdoses, a bold and controversial contested response to confront opioid overdose deaths nationwide. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

53-year-old Jose Collado, who visited the center, said, “They always worry about you, and they’re always taking care of you.”

Collado's 45-year-old friend Steve Baez said, “They make sure that you don’t die.”

Supplies for drug users are seen at an overdose prevention center, at OnPoint NYC in New York, N.Y., Friday, Feb. 18, 2022.

Sam Rivera, the executive director of OnPoint NYC, a nonprofit that runs the centers, said, “It’s a loving environment where people can use safely and stay alive.” Rivera said, “We’re showing up for people who too many people view as disposable.”

A sign on the wall reads "This site save lives" in Spanish and English at an overdose prevention center at OnPoint NYC in New York, N.Y., Friday, Feb. 18, 2022.

As the Associated Press reports, supervised drug consumption sites aren't new in places like Europe, Australia and Canada where they have been around for decades.