Opioid Epidemic and Safe Injection Houses
Did you know that more people die from opioid overdoses than car accidents? The epidemic has reached every segment of society.
In an attempt to combat the crisis, some jurisdictions offer “safe injection houses.” These are places equipped with clean needles, Narcan, and staffing so that addicts can inject safely, reducing deaths and harm to individuals and others in society.
This can be controversial. It involves taxpayer dollars. It goes against common ideas about law enforcement, criminal justice, addiction, and treatment. It seems to enable addicts. It seems to communicate that it’s okay for people to continue on in their addiction at the expense of the government and those who pay taxes.
But safe injection houses also give people another chance to live and fight another day. They save lives. The question becomes: Isn’t a saved life better than another drug-related death statistic?
“But for the grace of God, there go I” is a common saying in 12-step rooms. It captures the idea to never forget the plight of people still in active addiction — a place some of you once were.
“Don’t give up five minutes before the miracle happens” is another oft-repeated phrase in the rooms. It’s an appeal to hang in there because hope is on the way. Perhaps a resource like safe injection houses can give people that little more time they need to come to the realization that they need help — an opportunity to get their lives back together.
The word compassion originally comes from two words: suffer and together. One of the original features of AA/NA was the gift of compassion; the meeting was a safe place for people to “suffer together”; to identify with each other in their conversations about addiction. May we never lose sight of the power of compassion.
So yes, it’s controversial. Mercy often is in a world so twisted. But we think it’s the better way.