What Are Safe Injection Sites & Why Were They Banned in Bellevue, Washington?

In Addiction by THR

Safe injection sites (also known as fix rooms, drug consumption facilities, or medically supervised injection centers) are state sanctioned locations where opioid users can consume drugs in a hygienic space. Safe injection sites are part of a harm reduction approach to addiction policy. They are intended to present a safe and hygienic environment for users. They also function as a venue for social workers to speak with and educate users.

Safe injections sites are controversial. Many opponents suggest that their existence condones the use of illicit drugs such as heroin. People also worry that having safe injection sites in their communities will invite crime. Many suggest that safe injection sites cushion drug users’ experiences, keeping them from hitting the bottom that may ultimately leads to their full recovery.

On the other hand, research suggests that safe injection sites greatly reduce deaths by overdose and diseases related to intravenous drug use. According to a study with the European Drug Report, “Research has also shown that the use of supervised drug consumption facilities is associated with self-reported reductions in injecting risk behaviour such as syringe sharing. This reduces behaviours that increase the risk of HIV transmission and overdose death.”

Safe injection sites have recently been in the news in Bellevue, Washington State. Here, a recent vote banned any potential sites. The Bellevue City Council vote was unanimously against opening any sites. Although a state task force suggested opening safe injection sites, Bellevue voted against them. According to the Seattle Times, “The task force called for more access to treatment with the medication buprenorphine, more prevention efforts and wider distribution of naloxone, a drug that counteracts overdoses.”

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