Study: Safe places for drug use prevent overdoses and public use

A new study shows some of the benefits of safe drug consumption points, a controversial method of treating and preventing overdoses.

The study was published on the JAMA Network and presented a breakdown of evidence collected at two New York City prevention centers established in late 2021. This is the first peer-reviewed data from the first publicly recognized overdose prevention centers in the United States

Today in @JAMANetworkOpen, we report the first peer-reviewed data from the first publicly recognized overdose prevention centers in the US, operated by OnPoint NYC. 🧵

— Dave A. Chokshi, MD (@davechokshi) July 15, 2022

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The data was compiled over a two-month period as trained staff administered drugs to patients to reduce the risk of overdose while preventing other deaths.

The study found no deaths at these sites, with 613 people requesting the use of these services 5975 times. A large percentage of individuals reported being unprotected, with an average age of 42.5 years. 75 percent of participants said they would have used drugs in public if overdose prevention centers (OPCs) had not existed.

While some critics of this method are opposed to providing people with drugs legally, these methods show that they can save lives while preventing public use of drugs and public waste of items such as syringes and drug paraphernalia.

Aside from just preventing patients from dying, these centers provide other healthcare services to these people including counseling, testing for various diseases and more to make patients feel more comfortable while ensuring they are as healthy as possible.

Photo by LeszekCzerwonka/Getty Images

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Experts estimate that 2021 will be the year with the highest number of overdose-related deaths in New York City, likely surpassing 2020, which held the previous record. “These astonishing numbers show that urgent action is needed. In recent years, proven harm reduction strategies have been expanded to reduce overdose deaths. Harm reduction is a way of reaching out and caring for people who put people’s dignity, humanity and autonomy at the center to reduce the harms associated with drug use,” explains an accompanying comment, published on JAMA Network has been published.

While safe drug use websites are sometimes viewed as places where drug users can legally get more drugs, they are much more than that. As the data shows, they are currently among the most efficient tools for dealing with the drug overdose crisis.

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