health

Would safe injection sites be good for Philly? Readers weigh in

Brandon T. Harden, Staff Writer

Updated: Wednesday, January 24, 2018, 4:25 PM

This July 31, 2017, file photo shows discarded syringes in an open-air heroin market that has thrived for decades, slated for cleanup along train tracks a few miles outside the heart of Philadelphia. Philadelphia wants to become the first U.S. city to allow supervised drug injection sites as a way to combat the opioid epidemic, city officials announced Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, saying they would seek outside operators to establish one or more safe injection sites.

On Tuesday, Philadelphia officials took a bold step in addressing the opioid crisis that has increasingly plagued the region, by supporting the creation of medically supervised facilities where heroin users can safely inject drugs.

While other cities, including Seattle and Baltimore, are also moving toward the safe site model, no city in the United States yet has an operating, sanctioned injection facility. The policy is controversial and polarizing, raising questions by public officials and citizens about legality, morality, and how to address a public health crisis — not to mention the logistical details of where and how such sites would operate.

After reading about the city’s plan on Philly.com Tuesday, a majority of commenters were skeptical of or opposed to the plan. A few readers said they supported the idea, noting that other efforts to fight opioid addiction have failed.

“I hope this happens,” Instagram user @sugarchele wrote. “Let philly be in the forefront from combating this epidemic instead of seeing our brothers and sisters die on the street. Let it open on my neighborhood #washingtonpark. Less OD’d and on site medical care. What’s to oppose?”

However, a majority of commenters opposed the strategy put forth by city officials, arguing that drug users should not be allowed to engage in illegal activity right under the nose of law enforcement.

As public debate is ramping up and city officials are still in the early stages of detailing how the sites would operate, we want to hear more from you. What questions do you have about opioids, or so-called safe injection sites? How would you feel about having this kind of facility in your city — or on your block? Do you have loved ones who are using opioids and need help? Send us your comments and questions at audience@philly.com.

Learn more about safe injection sites: What is a safe injection site? Video: Philadelphia announces plan to create safe injection sites How Kensington got to be the center of Philly’s opioid crisis With safe injection sites, Philadelphia demonstrates a bold kind of leadership | Mike Newall

Brandon T. Harden, Staff Writer

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