Mon­i­tored drug use saves lives

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - Mark Sine, Bal­ti­more The writer is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Bal­ti­more Harm Re­duc­tion Coali­tion.

A re­cent com­men­tary (“Mon­i­tored drug use sites save lives,” Oct. 26) thor­oughly presents the case for “safer drug con­sump­tion” sites as an ev­i­dence-based re­sponse to drug use. The Bal­ti­more Harm Re­duc­tion Coali­tion, which has pro­vided over­dose ed­u­ca­tion and nalox­one since 2014, joins the au­thors in call­ing for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of SDC sites in Mary­land.

BHRC ap­plauds the ef­forts of Bal­ti­more and the state of Mary­land to ag­gres­sively ex­pand harm re­duc­tion pro­grams such as ac­cess to nalox­one, sy­ringe ex­change and Law En­force­ment As­sisted Di­ver­sion. De­spite th­ese ef­forts, over­dose deaths have in­creased dra­mat­i­cally be­tween 2015 and 2016, and fur­ther ac­tion is re­quired.

Safer drug con­sump­tion sites work. There have been no re­ported fa­tal over­doses at any of the ex­ist­ing sites across the world. Ad­di­tion­ally, as the au­thors point out, th­ese fa­cil­i­ties can more com­pre­hen­sively ad­dress the needs of peo­ple with sub­stance use dis­or­ders in­clud­ing through the pro­vi­sion of med­i­cal care, hous­ing and case man­age­ment. Such spa­ces in­crease en­try to sub­stance use treat­ment and im­prove the health and safety of in­di­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties. Sub­stan­tial ev­i­dence from years of re­search sup­ports th­ese claims; SDC sites are sim­ply ra­tio­nal and ef­fec­tive pub­lic pol­icy.

Our coali­tion wel­comes in­creased pub­lic aware­ness of the need to pre­vent over­dose deaths and treat drug use as a pub­lic health is­sue. In­no­va­tive strate­gies such as safer drug con­sump­tion sites must be se­ri­ously con­sid­ered as a part of this ap­proach.

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