In the midst of fatal opioid overdose and hepatitis C crises in New York, we urge our elected officials to pass the Safe Consumption Services Act (A8534) to authorize the establishment of safer consumption spaces (SCSs).
SCSs are places where people can use pre-obtained drugs in a controlled environment with the support of staff trained to help them to make drug use safer and to provide health care services, counseling, and referrals to health and social services, including drug treatment.
A body of international research shows the promising effects of safer consumption spaces
Internationally, there are more than 100 SCSs (also called supervised injection facilities or drug consumption rooms) in 66 cities across the world. SCSs’ well-established public health and social justice benefits have led states and localities to seek legal authorization to establish sites across the United States.
Safer Consumption Spaces are effective at:
- Reducing risk behaviors associated with hepatitis C and HIV infection.
- Preventing fatal opioid overdoses and injection-related hospitalizations.
- Decreasing improper syringe disposal and public injection drug use.
- Increasing access to health care, health education and a wealth of social services from basic needs (food, hygiene, shelter) to health and drug treatment services.
- Engaging populations most likely to overdose or contract blood-borne diseases.
Safer Consumption Spaces have NOT led to:
- Increases in crime or nuisance.
- Increases in relapse and decreases in rehabilitation.
- Increases in initiation of use or initiation of injection.
SCSs do not exist in the United States yet, but there is interest and progress:
- New York’s elected officials including Assembly member Linda Rosenthal and Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick are proposing the establishment of safe consumption spaces.
- Kings County in Washington State will open the nation’s first SCSs.
- Maryland, Maine, California and Vermont have introduced legislation to approve SCSs.
- Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Mexico and Boston experts are also proposing SCSs.
Expert and editorial support for SCSs can be found in reputable publications that include:
- Public health and medical institutions have committed their public support; these include amfAR, American Medical Association, The International Narcotics Control Board, Massachusetts Medical Society. Individual professionals have also committed support in articles in New England Journal of Medicine, Vice News, and a published sign-on letter with over 100 New York City healthcare providers.
- Support for SCSs from editorial boards and opinion pieces have grown and include: New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Huffington Post, Baltimore Sun, Seattle Times, Bloomberg News and the Boston Globe.