A new study shows some of the benefits of safe consumption drug sites, a controversial way of treating and preventing overdoses.
The study was published in JAMA Network and showed a breakdown of evidence gathered at two prevention centers in New York City, which were established at the end of 2021. This is the first peer-reviewed data from the first publicly-recognized overdose prevention centers in the U.S.
Today in @JAMANetworkOpen, we report the first peer-reviewed data from the first publicly-recognized overdose prevention centers in the U.S., operated by OnPoint NYC. 🧵https://t.co/8GT5tHkYRZ pic.twitter.com/mYCR6mIFNm
— Dave A. Chokshi, MD (@davechokshi) July 15, 2022
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The data was compiled over a two-month period when trained staff members administered drugs to patients to mitigate overdose risks while also preventing other instances of death.
The study found no deaths at these sites, with 613 people requesting the use of these services 5975 times. A big percentage of individuals reported being unsheltered, with a median age of 42.5 years. Seventy-five percent of participants reported they would have used drugs publicly if overdose prevention centers (OPC) hadn’t been available.
While some critics of this method are opposed to providing people with drugs legally, these methods show that they can save lives while preventing the public consumption of drugs and public waste of items like syringes and drug paraphernalia.
Aside from merely preventing patients from dying, these centers provided other health care services to these people, including counseling, testing for different diseases, and more, making patients feel more comfortable while ensuring that they’re as healthy as they can be.
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Experts estimate that 2021 is the year with the most overdose-related deaths in New York City, likely surpassing 2020, which held the previous record. “These staggering numbers demonstrate an urgent need for immediate action. In recent years, there has been expansion of proven harm reduction strategies to reduce overdose deaths. Harm reduction is a way of approaching and caring for people who use drugs that centers people’s dignity, humanity, and autonomy to reduce harms associated with substance use,” explains an accompanying commentary published on JAMA Network.
While safe consumption drug sites are at times thought of as places where drug users can legally get more drugs, they’re much more than that. As demonstrated by the data, they’re currently some of the most efficient tools for treating the drug overdose crisis.